A Nassau BOCES school bus driver and matron have been relieved of their duties after a child with autism was left on their bus, a school spokeswoman said.
Jeannine Vitucci of North Massapequa said her son Anthony, 7, who is low functioning and mostly nonverbal, didn’t get off the bus when it dropped off students at the BOCES school on Jerusalem Avenue in North Bellmore on Wednesday morning.
Police told Vitucci that the driver only realized Anthony had remained after the driver had stopped at a relative’s house to use the bathroom, Vitucci said.
“Anthony can never say what his feelings are,” Vitucci said in a phone interview. “I will never know how frightened he was at being on that bus alone.”
The principal called Vitucci at 10:40 a.m. to let her know that the bus driver and matron failed to notice Anthony had not gotten off the bus, she said.
Frustrated at the lack of information, she asked the police to accompany her to school after she immediately left work to pick him up.
“He was happy to see me,” she said. “He said ‘Mommy’ when he saw me and I almost died.”
Police said Thursday Vitucci told them her son was picked up from her house at 8:05 a.m.
A statement Wednesday from Nassau BOCES confirmed that a student was left on a bus and that both the “matron and bus driver involved were immediately removed from bus duty.”
A BOCES spokeswoman said Thursday each has been reassigned “pending an investigation.”
For now, Vitucci, whose request for a special matron to ensure he son’s safety on the school bus was twice denied by the school district, will be driving her son to school.
“Anthony is the type of child who loves the school and loves the bus,” she said, “and now I’m going have to take that away from him.”