BY LAUREN HENRY
The mother of a Greeneville kindergartner is considering taking legal action after her six-year-old son was dropped off about a tenth-of-a-mile from home in late November by a school bus.
Skylar Nelson, a kindergarten student at Hal Henard Elementary School, walked the half-block to his home on Forest Street after being let off the bus at the intersection of Forest and West Main streets.
A substitute bus driver mistakenly went past the boy's home without stopping and decided to let him off at the end of the street, approximately 500 feet from his house.
The other children on board informed the driver that the boy's home had been passed, but the driver did not circle back to the home, according to the boy, whose account was confirmed by school officials after they reviewed bus videotape.
From the front lawn of the child's home, the place where the driver let the six-year-old off is clearly visible.
However, from inside the home, where the mother was waiting, buildings obstruct the view of the place where the bus stopped.
Since the incident happened and the child's mother, Tabitha Pitt, emphatically complained about the driver's action, school officials have met with her twice, including one meeting with Director of Schools Dr. Linda Stroud.
As a result of the incident and the follow-up conversations with Pitt, school officials have used the situation to stress the importance of safety for all children placed under the care of city bus drivers, regular or substitute, said Dr. Stroud.
School officials have also instructed drivers that, if a stop is missed in the future, the driver should always either turn around, circle back around, or return the child to the school.
"The Greeneville City School System places the safety of all students as our first priority," Stroud said in a written statement to The Greeneville Sun concerning the incident and the school system's response to it.
But the boy's mother Pitt remains angry about what happened.
"You can't just put a six-year-old little boy out on the street," she said in a conversation with the Sun.
MET WITH OFFICIALS
As noted above, Pitt has met with Greeneville City Schools staff on two separate occasions to discuss the incident.
"GCS's staff have met with Ms. Pitt and other members of her family several times concerning the incident and assured her that her child's safety is of utmost importance to us," Stroud said.
"Further, an agreed-upon safety plan of action for him to ride the bus has been put in place, and he has, in fact, ridden the bus since meeting with Ms. Pitt and her family.
"Ms. Pitt confirmed to me and others that she is very satisfied with the agreed-upon transportation plan and that it is being implemented to her satisfaction.
"We will continue to take every appropriate step to ensure the safety of all students who attend our schools," Stroud said in the written statement.
Pitt may be satisfied with the transportation plan, which requires that either she or one of two other adults be present when her son is dropped off.
However, she says she still plans to pursue legal action against the school system.
Pitt said in an interview that, prior to this incident, she has never waited outside her home for her son to be dropped off. She explained that she felt she had no need to do that.
From now on, however, she will wait for him outside.
Pitt said that, although her son is fine except for one nightmare the night after the incident, she fears what could have happened between the bus and her house.
The "what if's" have led her, she says, to call several lawyers in pursuit of litigation against the school.
"Anything could have happened to him," she stated.
She said she wants parents to "know what is going on," and never wants the incident repeated.
"This driver, once [the fact that he had missed the stop was] brought to his attention, should have circled around or brought my son back to the school," she said.