Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Disabled Daughter Traumatized after Being Left on School Bus All Day, Mother Says

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Disabled Daughter Traumatized after Being Left on School Bus All Day, Mother Says

Article excerpt

Disabled teen left on cold bus for 6 hours

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TORONTO - A Toronto mother says her disabled daughter is still traumatized more than a week after being forgotten on board a school bus and left in the cold for six hours.

Laura Mastache says her daughter Wendy, who has both autism and epilepsy, has been noticeably more reserved and withdrawn since the incident on Jan. 23.

Mastache says the driver picked Wendy up as scheduled that morning, and was supposed to drop her off at the back entrance of a Toronto high school where the 19-year-old's special education program is held.

But the driver only dropped the students off at the front door, forgetting to take Wendy to her destination and leaving her on the bus, without heat, until it was time to take students home at the end of the day.

The incident prompted the Toronto District School Board to change one of its attendance notification policies and resulted in the bus driver losing her job.

Mastache says such actions can't ever answer the questions that linger as she and her daughter struggle to make sense of what happened.

"She could have died there," Mastache said in a telephone interview. "Hypothermia. I don't know if she had a convulsion, if she passed out, I don't know."

Mastache said the day began as usual when she put Wendy on the school bus around 8:30 in the morning.

She had no idea anything was amiss until a concerned teacher phoned at the end of the day to report that Wendy had been absent from class all day, but had recently been seen getting off the bus that was rounding up students for the trip home.

Mastache, feeling panicky, went to the school to make inquiries. She said school officials were reviewing surveillance video and reported that Wendy had not entered the school building at the beginning of the day.

Mastache said she confronted the school bus driver, who initially denied knowing anything about Wendy's whereabouts. …

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