Last Thursday, Suzan Roan got the kind of phone call sure to send the parent of any young child into a panic.
On the other end of the line was a staff member at Webster Elementary in Winfield wanting to know why Roan’s son, three-year-old Sammy, was not at school - was he sick? Roan was confused because her roommate was in charge of putting the child on a bus to Webster on Thursdays, so he had better darn well be at school.
The school double-checked the classroom but Sammy was nowhere to be found.
It was 12:36 p.m. - more than a half hour after the bus was to have dropped off students at Webster’s early learning center. Roan was filled with worry when she ended up back on the phone with school officials fifteen minutes later.
She held on the line while the school contacted the district’s transportation department.
Sammy was found a short time later, still sitting in his seat on the bus in the parking lot of the district’s bus barn. He was on the bus alone for nearly an hour.
Roan was frantic and left work at Winfield Correctional Facility immediately. She went to the school to pick up her child and take him home for the day.
Officials from the transportation dept. and the school were there to greet her and offer apologies. Later she got into contact with USD 465 superintendent J.K. Campbell who promised to address the incident and offered an apology, Roan said.
And that, she said, probably would have been enough to satisfy her, had Roan not started talking with others with whom she worked. While transportation officials told her incidents of this type were a rare occurrence, other parents said it happened to others they knew a few times before in recent years.
Some who spoke with NewsCow shared similar stories.
Campbell, who just started his second school year as superintendent in Winfield, said Monday that he understood Roan’s concerns. It is understandable she is upset, he said.
Though Campbell could not confirm reports of past incidents of this kind in recent years, he did say that he expected there to be no future incidents. School board members and various district and school officials have been consulted, he said.
“This matter has been resolved,” Campbell said. “And I don’t expect anything like that to happen again.”
Roan hopes that is true. She gets upset thinking about what might have happened had the weather been much warmer, like it was when school first started.
Accidents happen, she said, and she understands that Sammy is young, really quiet and not likely to speak up when around people he doesn’t know very well. Still, as she understands it, there were two adults on the bus.
Sammy also was the last stop on the route and lives just a few blocks from the school. His mom wonders how he would be missed in such a short time.
She thinks making the story public will help everyone else be more diligent.
“I hate to think about what could’ve happened,” Roan said. “I just want to make sure that something like this doesn’t happen again.”