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Mother demands answers after son found asleep on school bus

By Juli McDonald

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    BEVERLY, Massachusetts (WBZ) — A mother says her child with special needs was found sleeping on the school bus, and it wasn’t until his sister sounded the alarm that the bus driver realized something was wrong.

“It’s not just enraging, it was terrifying. I was at my desk. My baby was somewhere I couldn’t get to,” Rachel Martin said.

When Rachel put her 9-year-old on the school bus Tuesday morning, she assumed he’d make it to his third-grade classroom soon. She panicked, nearly an hour later, when she received a photo as high schoolers boarded the bus.

“At 7:59 my daughter who is a freshman in high school texted me while I was at work a picture of my son asleep on the bus, seat belted in, asking why he was on the high school bus,” Martin said.

This would be frightening for any parent, but especially for special needs parents, who spend so much of their lives advocating for safety and fair treatment of their vulnerable kids.

“My son is an IEP special needs student,” Martin said. “That’s the reason he’s on that bus and he’s attending that school. Had he been woken up by a stranger he would have ran. He’s a flight risk, he’s a runner. A lot of bad things could have happened.”

In a statement, the superintendent of Beverly schools said, “We treat matters like this with the utmost seriousness and have taken action to re-train our transportation staff.”

The driver has been placed on paid leave during a review. Rachel Martin said her only comfort comes from the care her son does receive at school.

“He has amazing teachers at the school. They are trained to take care of him in crisis moments. I am very lucky for the school that he does go to,” she said. “Things could have gone a lot worse than they went.”

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