NPS changes preschool’s dismissal procedure after child goes astray

Artwork on the walls of the Norwalk Early Childhood Center (NECC), on Feb. 6.

NORWALK, Conn. – A Norwalk mother waited 40 minutes recently for her 3-year-old son to return home from the Norwalk Early Childhood Center before eventually sending the child’s grandfather to the school, to find out that he’d been put on the wrong bus, according to a Wednesday evening Facebook post.

Norwalk Public Schools Communications Director Brenda Wilcox Williams confirmed the incident had occurred. The Facebook post did not say when it happened; Wilcox Williams said it was Wednesday.

“While he was supervised at all times and delivered safely home by the bus, his arrival was certainly behind schedule, and the confusion in communicating with his parents will be looked at closely,” Wilcox Williams wrote in an email to NancyOnNorwalk.

The Facebook post said that after waiting 40 minutes for the child, the parents called the school multiple times but no one answered. The grandfather went to the school and it took 15 minutes before school staff made phone calls to determine the boy’s whereabouts. The Facebook writer said that the boy was put in the correct line for the bus but followed the wrong group of students,  and was on the wrong bus for an hour with no one realizing he didn’t belong there.

The Facebook post writer did not respond to a message seeking further information.

Bus drivers and monitors went through a safety retraining in February, Chief of Specialized Learning and Student Services Yvette Goorevitch said last month at a Board of Education Committee meeting, where NECC Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) member Kim Burke attributed the move to unsanitary car seats and PTO mom Gillian Hedges said some NECC buses carry 10 preschoolers.

NECC was recently created as a centralized location for Norwalk pre-K schooling, offering services to special needs children and their “typical” peers.

Wilcox Williams wrote:

“Following yesterday situation, NECC has revamped its dismissal procedure. Instead of a group dismissal, students will now be dismissed bus by bus from individual classrooms  A double-check system has been put in place to monitor departures. Director Maureen Sullivan reviewed these procedural changes this morning with staff before students arrived.

“Maureen spoke with the child’s parents yesterday to explain what happened, and to also let them know that new protocols would be in place starting immediately.”

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