CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. -- A Clayton County mother is furious after she says her 4-year-old son was put on a bus after school when he wasn't supposed to, dropped off by himself and left to wander the streets of his neighborhood.
Thanks to a Good Samaritan, 4-year-old Rashiem is back with his mother this evening after a long day of school. But she was left wondering how this happened, so 11Alive's Chris Hopper is holding the powerful accountable.
On the morning of Aug. 7, Keyana Darden says she put her son on the bus for his first-ever day of school. But when she went to Riverdale Elementary to pick him up, there was no sign of him. It led to a few terrifying hours.
"For two hours, I couldn't find my baby," she said in an interview only with 11Alive. "That's all that was going through my head for those two whole hours, I probably wouldn't get to see my baby no more."
Darden says parents are supposed to have a notarized affidavit for students to be allowed to get on the bus. Rashiem didn't have one. Darden says she made sure his paperwork notified staff her son is supposed to be a car-rider for the whole week. But that didn't happen on Monday.
"He was running past my street," said Laura Leslie.
The Riverdale resident was the one who spotted Rashiem wandering after school. She asked him where he lived to try to get him back home to safety, but he didn't seem to know. She says it was just her motherly instincts kicking in.
"I tried to do what I could to help him until someone could find his mother," she told 11Alive. "If that was my child, I would want somebody to help my child."
Leslie called Clayton County Police, who escorted Rashiem back to school on the bus. That's where he was reunited with his mother.
Darden met with the principal, teacher and bus drive, who she said all apologized, but the she wants answers.
"I don't want this to happen to nobody else's kid," Darden said. "I want them to take responsibility for what happened."
Bus drivers are not supposed to drop small children off at the bus stop without a parent waiting there to get them. 11Alive reached out to Clayton County Schools for answers on Monday. Tuesday the public information officer sent this statement.
"We are pleased this student was reunited with his mother safe and sound. As it is our practice, we are reviewing the few first day of school incidents in light of our internal processes and procedures to ensure that all students are always safe and that this incident or similar outcomes do not occur in the future."
11Alive reached out again to get clarification on Clayton County Schools' dismissal policies, who said all Pre-K and 1st grade students are not to get off the bus without supervision.
"A designee must be present at the bus stop to retrieve the student. Unless it is stated from parents the student do not need supervision or can get off with an older sibling. If a designated person is not at the bus stop, students will be returned to school."
The spokesperson directed parents to the Transportation Department's "Release Statement for Pre-K, Kindergarten and 1st grade" form on the school district's website for more details.