ANKENY, Iowa — Parents of a five-year-old boy with down syndrome become the second family to file a lawsuit this year involving Ankeny School District’s busing company, Durham School Services.
Parents Andrea and Nathon Keith say their son was left to ride the school bus for three hours without access to a bathroom, food, or ability to talk to his parents before he eventually arrived at his final destination.
According to their lawyer Brad Schroeder, the Keiths were frantically looking for their son and even called 911 before he made his appearance at daycare.
“The parents described just being beside themselves crying, shaking, driving around looking for their son, thinking oh my god somebody took him,” said Schroeder.
The young boy, who is partially non verbal, was visibly shaken by the event. Schroeder says he appeared anxious, confused, and was freaking out when his parents took him out of the bus.
Since the incident took place last May, Durham still hasn’t answered what happened and where the students went that afternoon. Shroeder says that the primary goal of this lawsuit is to find the missing answers that family is looking for.
“Is it simply that we [they] hire crappy drivers? And we [they] need to get better at it or are we [they] hiring people that aren’t good aides and we need to get better at it? Tell us that tell us something. how do we know this isn’t going to keep happening?” said Schroeder.
In a statement, Durham spokesperson Edward Flavin claims the company has fired the driver and the monitor involved. When asked about their staff training for those with special needs Flavin declined to comment.
“They’ve been turtling,” said Schroeder. “There’s no other way to describe it. They are just burying their heads in the sand.”
According to Iowa Administrative Code, under normal circumstances school bus rides for elementary students are not supposed to exceed 60 minutes.
The Keith family is suing for intentional infliction of severe emotional distress, false imprisonment, negligence and negligent hiring, training, retention, and supervision.