"No one knew where he was," Rodriguez said, but a neighbor found him crying on the front porch of his empty home about an hour after he was dropped off.
Rodriguez said Tuesday morning, Chuck Stallard, Danville school's transportation director, bus driver Keith Ransdell and Bob Rowland, Danville schools superintendent, came to her home and apologized for the incident.
"There was some miscommunication about what happened," Stallard said. "Realistically, we had a driver error."
Stallard said the incident is a situation that can be fixed, and the important fact is that the child was OK.
Tuesday, Fuqua also told The Advocate that he had not previously been made aware of any situation involving Rodriguez's claim that her son had been left on the bus after a route was completed.
"That is correct," Stallard said. He said although Rodriguez's son was found asleep on the bus, it was not parked in the bus garage.
"This is a common occurrence. It was the first day of school, the kids are tired, the bus is warm, they fall asleep. The driver simply circled back around and dropped him off before returning to the school," Stallard said.
Another parent, Amber Blake, has come forward saying another bus driver made the same mistake on her 5-year-old son's bus route. Stallard confirmed that Blake's child was dropped off at the wrong stop on another route this school year.
"We have a group of folks who are using you all (the media) as their voice," Stallard said. He said Blake's was a different situation and it had occurred on the second day of school.
"She said her son ended up coming home in the car with a total stranger after he was dropped off at the wrong location, but it was the parent of one of the children he got off the bus with, and it was half a block from his home," Stallard said. "We talked to her yesterday, and she said there had been no problem since the second day of school - but she wanted to call channel 18, so she did."
Blake could not be reached for comment.
No comfort from apology
Rodriguez said she felt the public needed to know about the situation, and that she didn't feel much better after receiving an apology.
"Not only was I asked why my son, who is a 5-year-old, got off in front of his home knowing nobody was home, but the bus driver told me my son is small, he couldn't see him and he has 60 kids on the bus," Rodriguez said. "That's his job. He's supposed to pay attention to the kids."
Stallard's response was was that normally the bus transports 40 to 50 students daily, an increase he feels may be due to high gas prices.
Stallard said Danville schools transports about 900 kids daily on eight buses and eight routes, plus three additional buses for special needs.
Rodriguez said she also was surprised when she was told the school bus monitor was no longer riding the bus with the children.
"First of all there is not a policy (concerning monitors)," Stallard said. He said the only buses where monitors are required by law are buses for pre-school and special needs children. Monitors are only used on the regular buses with younger students for the first two weeks of school.
"They're temporary positions, because of cost and the availability of people to do it," Stallard said. Although a decision was made Tuesday, Stallard said, to add a monitor back on the specific bus route where Rodriquez's son was dropped off at the wrong location.
"Those little ones are small, they get down in the seat, they can't see out. They're really dependent on us as adults to call the stops out and make sure they get off the bus," Stallard said. The decision to add a monitor back on a route has been made in previous years, he said. He said an additional bus route was added this year and that has meant more adjustments and changes.
"We care about these kids. We're in the kid business, and it's a situation that can be fixed," Stallard said.
But Rodriguez says her son will no longer be riding the Danville school bus.
"I'm a single mother, work 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. six days a week and take care of three kids, and I know where they are at all times," Rodriguez said.
"You'd think a bus driver would do his job and make sure they at least get off in the right place."