Sleeping Redwood student found aboard bus in depot

WEST ORANGE, NJ — Following a busing snafu, an elementary school child was driven to the bus depot instead of school Friday, March 16.

A bus driver employed by the Hunterdon County Education Service Commission, which performs certain busing duties for West Orange, reportedly failed to perform the mandatory inspection of his bus after delivering students to Redwood. While refueling the bus at the bus depot, a district employee discovered a sleeping 6-year-old Redwood student still aboard the bus; the child had been on the bus for approximately 40 minutes.

According to the West Orange School District, immediately after the student was discovered, district personnel contacted the student’s parents and the West Orange Police Department.

“The West Orange Police Department and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office are presently investigating this matter,” West Orange Superintendent of Schools Jeff Rutzky said in a March 16 statement. “I have contacted the Hunterdon County Educational Service Commission and directed them that the driver be immediately terminated.”

And that is exactly what the HCESC did.

“At the Hunterdon County Educational Services Commission, our highest priority is ensuring the safety, security and well-being of those students placed in our care,” HCESC Superintendent Marie Gorey told the West Orange Chronicle on March 19. “Our school bus drivers and monitors are professional, well trained and held to the highest standard of professional practice. This incident last week was inexcusable, and the driver was immediately terminated for an egregious breach of responsibility.”