ISLE OF WIGHT, Va. (WAVY) — As Tianna Beale played in her Grandma’s yard Tuesday morning, she could not stop replaying in her mind what happened on the way to summer school Monday.
“So, I was stuck on the bus,” she told 10 On Your Side.
The 9-year-old fell asleep on her way to Windsor elementary school. She woke up alone, in a sweat.
“I was hot… really hot,” she said.
Her parents, Melquan Beale and Tarsha Cotman, thanked God the temperatures were mild for July and that Tianna was savvy enough to pull the red handle and escape through the emergency door.
“This one right here, I’m glad she was brave, that’s all I can say,” Beale told WAVY.
After she got off the bus, confusion set in as she realized she was at the wrong school and in the wrong town.
The bus gets parked at Westside Elementary nearly 10 miles away in Smithfield.
A man approached Tianna said and asked why she was crying. The school grounds keeper took her inside.
Acting superintendent, Dr. Christopher Coleman, conceded that a trust has been broken.
“It definitely could’ve been worse, I truly thank God that it didn’t get worse,” he told 10 On Your Side.
Coleman wants parents to know he’s doing everything in his power to rebuild the trust.
“We have literally already dove into the protocol and the procedures that we have used for the last 4-5 years and finding out where was the ball dropped and what exactly occurred.”
Coleman confirmed the driver, a 10-year veteran, did not follow protocol which requires them to walk through buses after they drop off students and again after the vehicles are parked.
The school district also said starting immediately it will notify parents when their children are not in attendance at summer school.
That might be quite a while for Tianna who told us, “I don’t want to go to school because I don’t want to get on the bus again.”
Beale and Cotman also told 10 On Your Side this isn’t the first time the school bus system has dropped the ball.
When Tianna was in preschool, they confused her with another child and sent her to the wrong address. They said they let it go that time because they were just thankful she was safe.
This time they said they will seek accountability in court.