KCPS bus missing for hours on first day of school prompts larger investigation

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KANSAS CITY, Mo — FOX4 has obtained records that uncover what went on behind the scenes at KCPS the day dozens of students from Primitivo Garcia Elementary School arrived home nearly 4 hours after the school day ended on Aug. 12.

The information obtained through an open records request pinpoints the exact location of Garcia Bus No. 5, operated by Student Transportation of America, the school bus vendor for Kansas City Public Schools and conversations between district officials.

KCPS said the initial delay getting to the school was caused, in part, due to a late dismissal from the high schools on the first day of school.

The school day at Garcia Elementary ends at 3:20 p.m., but according to GPS tracking, the bus arrived at the school at 4:50 p.m.

In an email sent by Garica Principal Rejeanne Alomenu to KCPS Assistant Superintendent Darrin Slade, at 3:59 p.m. KCPS Transportation Director Chris Walls texted saying the driver was at The Paseo and Independence.

But according to the bus’s own GPS, at the time, the bus was instead across state lines at Interstate 35 and Cambridge Street, less than a 10-minute drive from the school.

Despite being less than 10 minutes from the school, it would take another 50 for the bus to finally arrive to pick up the students.

The district said the “driver made some mistakes and misjudgments” and ended up in downtown traffic.

It was only at 4:30 p.m. when Walls received information from the driver that he was lost.

Records show the bus finally arrived at the school at 4:50 p.m. and left at 5:10 p.m. with the students on board.

When the students didn’t arrive by 6 p.m., according to the principal's email, she received another phone call from an after-school director looking for the students.

Shortly afterward, Walls informed Alomenu the driver was lost again and that a new driver was on the way to relieve the driver.

All of the students were finally dropped off by 7 p.m.

In the email, Alomenu mentioned several missing person reports were filed by parents looking for their children.

She also mentioned that the school was impacted by route cancellations last school year, and reassured parents that it wouldn’t happen this year with the contract with Student Transportation of America, the vendor for the district.

The driver was fired, according to the district, for failing to follow several policies and procedures.

Sources tell FOX4 the incident also prompted an investigation with the Missouri Department of Child Services for possible child neglect.

FOX4 reached out to the agency to learn more information but was referred to KCPS, who said they plan to release more details about the investigation on Thursday.

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