CVUSD Driver’s “Serious Mistake” Leaves Special Needs Preschooler in Car for Four Hours

Daytona Everett

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Coachella Valley Unified School District apologized after a driver left a special needs child in a vehicle for four hours on Monday. The child did not suffer any injuries and returned to school on Wednesday.

Back in 2014, a different child with autism was left stranded on a CVUSD school bus. Leaked video shows the boy screaming for help but with no one to answer. Full story:

Assistant superintendent of CVUSD, Erik Lee, said the driver of the Ford Explorer was assigned to pick the student up for school near the Salton Sea. Instead of dropping the boy off at school, he was left in the car parked next to the rest of the school vehicles outside of the district’s transportation building.

Unlike school buses, smaller school vehicles don’t have cameras installed. Lee explained the district’s drop off procedure is simple: check every aisle and under every seat to make sure no child is left behind.

“For some strange reason this time which we don’t understand yet, that procedure does not appear to have been followed,” Lee said.

Riverside County Sheriff’s Department is questioning the driver who has been put on administrative leave.

“This is a highly experienced driver with many years of training,” Lee said. “Training specifically tailored to avoid this very situation of leaving a child unattended.”

Lee said the unusually cool May weather saved the child during those four hours.

“It was just a wonderful child and to think that that child was put in jeopardy was difficult for all of us,” he said.

The school district is now reassessing its policies so in the future, no child is left behind. According to Lee, the sheriff’s department said it doesn’t look like the driver had criminal intent but that it was a “serious mistake.”

After the full investigation, the district will determine the fate of the driver’s job.


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