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Paulding Co. mom says school left special needs daughter wandering alone

<i>WANF</i><br/>A Paulding County Georgia mom says the New Georgia Elementary School left her special needs daughter wandering alone.
Lawrence, Nakia
A Paulding County Georgia mom says the New Georgia Elementary School left her special needs daughter wandering alone.

By Zac Summers

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    PAULDING COUNTY, Georgia (WANF) — A Paulding County mom is furious and demanding accountability for an incident involving her daughter and school staff.

Jasmine Mitchell told Atlanta News First she has lost trust in the Paulding County School District after her 7-year-old daughter Kendall, who has special needs, was put on the wrong bus and forced to get off at the wrong stop.

“I’ve never seen her so terrified or scared,” Mitchell said. “She’s not herself.”

Kendall takes a bus from New Georgia Elementary School to an after-school program every day. On Jan. 4, Mitchell claims her daughter was put on the wrong bus. She said the bus driver dropped off her daughter at their house. However, Mitchell wasn’t home.

Kendall had a yellow tag on her backpack, meaning she was not supposed to exit the bus without a parent present.

“I feel like that was a negligent mistake,” Mitchell said. “Kendall had tags on her bag, and she told the bus driver, ‘my mom’s not home. Can I please stay on?’ And Kendall said he told her to get off.”

The little girl walked around her house for at least an hour. A neighbor would later find her near a busy intersection crying and confused.

“I immediately called the school to let them know what was going on and they reassured me she was at after school,” Mitchell said. “So, they were not even aware she was missing. If my neighbors didn’t find her, she could’ve been kidnapped. Something could have happened to her.”

A spokesperson for the school district said they could not comment on the incident because of legal reasons. However, it’s the latest bussing issue to be exposed in the district.

Last week, a substitute driver was suspended after she refused to let students “without yellow tags” off the bus. In August, a video showing students sitting in the aisle of a packed bus also made headlines.

“It starts with leadership, the superintendent, the principals, the transportation department,” Mitchell responded. “Take more pride in the people you bring on to represent your district.”

Mitchell has retained legal counsel. She wants her daughter transferred to another school and is demanding the district pay for treatment for Kendall’s emotional distress. The mom of three is also requesting letters of apology from the staff involved.

Full statement from Paulding County School District:

“The school district is aware of the issue and is working with the family, school administration, and the Transportation Department to address their concerns. As this is a legal matter, the school district cannot comment specifically. However, we want to emphasize that nothing is more important to us than our students’ safety, and we will continue to work diligently to ensure a safe and secure experience for all students.”

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