4-year-old girl left behind on school bus

EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - The East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office is investigating a 4-year-old girl found in the parking lot of a grocery store.

It's believed the girl was left behind on a school bus after going unnoticed by the driver. Employees noticed the girl when she wandered into the Winn Dixie supermarket on Joor Road sometime before noon on Monday, March 19. Store managers said they reviewed security camera footage which showed the girl getting off of the bus and walking into the store.

It's believed the girl fell asleep on the bus Monday morning and did not get off at the stop for her elementary school, investigators say. Officials with the East Baton Rouge Parish School System (EBRPSS) say it appears the bus in question was parked at the grocery store on Monday, but it's unclear if the driver parks the bus there every day. School officials also noted they are actively working to install GPS technology on their school buses.

According to the police report filed in the case, the girl is a student at the Baton Rouge Foreign Language Academy Immersion Magnet (FLAIM) on Mayflower Street.

The FLAIM PTO President Claire Casey Pittman sent out a statement about the incident Monday evening:

We were horrified, like everyone else, to learn how careless the bus driver had been. We are relieved, however, to learn that the school district has terminated the employee and seeks to exercise additional vigilance concerning the matter.

The girl's parents say they were not notified that the child wasn't at school. The school says they plan to have a meeting with teachers to make sure the front office is notified no later than 9 a.m. if a child does not show up in class. An automated call would then go out to the parents to inform them of their child's absence.

EBRPSS has terminated the driver. Officials with the school system also say the child was in good health when found and was safely returned to her family. The number of the bus in question is 2243, according to school officials.

State law requires school bus drivers to check their bus at the end of every route to prevent children from being left on the bus.

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