Madison County schools investigating how 4-year-old was left on bus

Madison County Schools officials are investigating why a 4-year-old girl was left alone on a bus.

The driver of the bus has been suspended until the inquiry is completed, school district spokeswoman Erin Stewart said.

The child was picked up sometime Wednesday morning and was taken to the school district's education center in Richmond to attend an afternoon pre-school program, Stewart said.

However, the child apparently fell asleep and didn't get off the bus when it reached the school. Stewart said the child apparently slept until the bus reached the end of its run, and she wasn't discovered until sometime later, after she awakened and became frightened.

"Our standard procedure for bus drivers is that after they make a run and go to park the vehicle, they are supposed to walk through the bus and check all of the rows of seats," Stewart said Thursday. "Obviously, if there was a child asleep on the bus, something happened that she was not discovered at that time."

The investigation is to determine the chain of events, Stewart said.

The bus probably arrived at the school about 11:30 Wednesday. Stewart said she wasn't sure how long the girl remained on the bus before being found.

The inquiry should take 24 to 48 hours, after which "appropriate action" will be taken, she said.