A Granite District bus driver has been suspended without pay for forgetting to drop off a student who uses a wheelchair, then parking her bus in the district garage and leaving the child alone inside.

The child, who has cerebral palsy and attends Silver Hills Elementary in Kearns, was left alone in the bus for about 10 minutes before transportation workers found her, district spokeswoman Michele Bartmess said.

"We don't have any explanation for it," Bartmess said. The driver, herself a grandmother, "feels terrible."

The girl is one of nine special-education students who take that bus. She is the only one who uses a wheelchair, district transportation director Carl Christiansen said. Thirty other regular education students also ride the bus.

Monday afternoon, the girl's grandmother called Silver Hills when the child didn't come home from school. Bartmess estimates the girl was about an hour late as the driver dropped off the other students and made her way back to the garage.

The school contacted district police, who contacted the transportation department, Bartmess said. Workers immediately checked the bus garage in West Valley City, where the girl was found unharmed.

The girl told the workers her phone number and where she lived, and she was taken home, Bartmess said.

The driver was suspended without pay. Though her name was not released, Christiansen said the woman had worked for the district 10 years without incident. She had been driving this route for about a year and a half. Different students take the bus every day. A driver's aide was on board.

District policy requires bus drivers to walk through the bus before parking to ensure no students are left on the bus, Bartmess said.

The driver was expected to be back on the job Thursday, Christiansen said. She will have a new bus route.


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