GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - Parents, think about this for a second: You send your kids to school and instead of them coming back home, safe and sound, they end up bruised and questioning their safety.
“When we put our kids on the bus, we feel like everything is okay,” said Sabrina Leblanc.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case anymore for Leblanc. Her 11-year-old son attends Gonzales Primary School and says they’re routinely left on the bus unattended.
On Wednesday, Jan. 9, her son came home with a frightening story. “He said, ‘My body hurts, my back hurts.’ I said, ‘What’s the problem?’” That’s when her son began to explain that the driver left several kids on the bus to go inside the school. Then, the bus started to roll backwards.
Leblanc says her son told her when the bus started to roll, the students ran to the front of the bus.
The student says the bus hit another one parked behind it, leaving the 4th grader with scratches and bruises.
At the time, her 5-year-old son was also on the bus asleep, but the sudden impact woke him up. “He hit his head on the window of the bus. When he woke up, he ran to the front of the bus and my son tried to grab him,” Leblanc said. “As he ran, my son hit his back on the iron metal of the bus and he hit his leg.” The mother says her son’s account was the first she’d heard of the incident.
While the school sent home a letter with students acknowledging what happened, she says it didn’t match up with her son’s story.
She says the letter didn’t indicate the bus driver left the students on the bus unattended.
“It’s only indicating it was an accident and the bus slowly rolled backwards,” Leblanc said. “They were supposed to call the parents and let the parents know that your child has been in an accident, not let the day go by with these kids inside the school, not knowing what’s wrong with them.”
She’s encouraging parents to talk to kids just to make sure everything is okay. “What y’all need to do is sit them down and really get that understanding for what happened,” Leblanc said. “See if anything is hurting on them, aching on them.”
For now, Leblanc’s children have made a simple request. “They asked me this morning, they said, ‘Mom, can we be carhops?’ I said, ‘Why?’ They said, ‘Because I’m very scared. We don’t know what’s going to happen next.’"
We reached out to Ascension Parish Public Schools for comment. A spokesperson for the school system said, “Anytime there is an incident, our bus drivers go through a standard drug test. If it results in any findings, we take proper actions without employees. A police report has been filed.”
The spokesperson also said the school system could be facing a lawsuit. If that’s the case, they say they can’t comment on any pending litigation.