ATHENS, TX (KLTV) - Any teacher or parent will tell you that mistakes and mix-ups are to be expected on the first day of school. But, one of those mix-ups involving an East Texas school bus put a seven-year-old girl in danger this week, after she was put on the wrong bus, then dropped off late.
Sierra Kaufman is not interested in riding the bus again anytime soon, and her dad says it's because of what happened to her on the first day of second grade.
"She, after sitting here for a little bit, ran down the highway to the loop and was going to try to find her way back home, which is about 15 miles from here," Robert Kaufman said.
Sierra was supposed to be dropped off at her father's auto shop on Highway 31 in Athens, but got put on the bus that goes to her home. When she wasn't with her brother and sister, her parents called the school. They told them to go home, and that Sierra would be delivered there soon.
The bus driver took her to the auto shop anyway, and left her there. But, the shop was already closed, and Sierra walked about a half a mile to the loop.
While she was walking, her dad, the bus supervisor, and the bus driver went to the shop to look for her, and were even looking in the woods behind the building.
"Up to the point that they dropped her off here, I was just angry," Robert Kaufman said. "But, when she wasn't here, that's the point we start to get scared. A lot of truck traffic, and a lot of people from out of town come through here, and you have no idea who could pick her up."
Luckily, the person that found her was an off-duty police officer from Trinidad. He got in touch with Athens police, and they called Robert.
Athens superintendent Dr. Fred Hayes suspended the bus driver for the rest of the week. He says that the first day of school contributed to some of the confusion, but that it's no excuse.
"The first day of school there was a rush, and we have to understand that we don't rush to do things like this," Hayes said. "The child's safety is too important to make a rush decision."
"That's not miscommunication, that's just neglect [and] carelessness," Robert Kaufman said. "I don't know what to call it, but I know I'd be in trouble if I did it."