CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – The middle school students who said they were forced off the bus miles from their stop Monday afternoon didn't listen to the bus driver's directions, according to a spokeswoman for Broward County Public Schools.
The Forest Glen Middle students said the driver tried dropping them off on the wrong side of Riverside Drive, and they would have needed to cross four lanes of traffic to get home. They asked the bus driver to drop them off on the other side of the road, but he kept driving, they said.
Priscilla Colon said the bus driver dropped the remaining seven students off the bus at a BP gas station across from Broward Health North on Sample Road. District officials said the gas station is the final stop on the route.
Surveillance video from the gas station shows a school bus passing by about 5 p.m., nearly the same time parents said they received calls from their children. The students said they walked to Broward Health North, where their parents picked them up.
"As soon as I got there, the kids broke down, crying. I was upset," said Daniel Chacon, father of one of the seven.
"Something happened to my child, and I have no answer," added Maggie Brayboy, a grandmother of one of the seven.
The district said in a statement Tuesday that the driver made his scheduled stops along the route, which was verified by GPS. The statement continued:
"The stop in question was made on the southbound side of the road, instead of the northbound side. This stop is located on Riverside Drive, north of Sparrow Walk.
The bus driver was told by several students that they did not recognize their bus stop.
Students who missed their stop were directed by the bus driver to remain on the bus and told they would be driven back to their correct bus stop after the driver completed the remaining portion of the route.
During a regular stop (located near Sample Road in Pompano Beach), some of the students who missed their scheduled stop, exited the bus (along with other students assigned to this stop).
The bus driver requested that these students return to the bus, however, these directions were not followed.
Transportation dispatchers were notified of the situation.
After completing the route, the bus driver did return to the stop on Riverside Drive to drop off the remaining students who missed their stop. This took place at approximately 6:00 p.m."
"I don't want to take the bus anymore because it's scary," said Kayla Vogel, a seventh grader. "I'm a little nervous knowing that the driver could do it again."
The district hasn't identified the driver, who the principal of Forest Glen Middle said wasn't driving the same route Tuesday.