Austistic boy put on wrong bus

September 10, 2009 8:53:37 PM PDT
Donald and Kimberly Minenger say it was the worst 60 minutes of their lives. They could not find their 10 year old autistic child, Justin.

"My mother-in-law called me and said they can't find Justin. I said 'What do you mean they can't find Justin?' The school says they put him on the wrong bus," Kimberly Minenger said.

Because of his autism, Justin has a very strict routine.

In the morning a Para, a sort of school assistant, picks him from home and then hands him off to another Para at his school.

But his parents say on the way home from school the exchange between the two adults didn't happen. He never made it to his grandmother's house in Saint Albans, Queens.

His parents dropped everything at work and went directly to the Robert E. Peary school in Rdgewood.

"This is 5 o'clock. We didn't get notified until 4:15 and Justin gets on the bus at 3. So an hour in between, we don't know where our son is," Minenger said.

The Minengers say school administrators sent out an alert to bus drivers and even called police.

A bus driver and matron realized they had one extra kid.

Justin was re-united with his parents 3 hours after getting on the wrong bus.

"He just ran and hugged us. He was crying. He's not toilet trained. He was wet. He was hungry," Minenger said.

Justin's parents are reminded of a Brooklyn autistic student left overnight on a bus last winter.

The Minengers feel this wasn't one mistake but many.

They've been on the phone all day looking for answers.

They believe there should have been a head count, a roster check and a face-to-face hand off.

"I've very upset and very upset. It's more with the Para in the school because he as a Para should have been more responsible," his father said.

"This all could have been prevented if everyone followed procedure and communicate," added his mother.

Justin's parents say they only want an apology and a promise that the school will come up with a plan to make sure this doesn't happen again.

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