9-year-old Piper Fitzgerald shows where she was dropped off at an isolated intersection in north Shreveport after summer school testing ran late on Tuesday.
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) -
An Ark-La-Tex family is upset tonight after a summer school bus dropped off a little girl late, forcing her to wait at an isolated intersection alone, three miles from home. Now, the girl's mother wants answers, like why the school didn't notify parents that testing was running late on Tuesday, forcing buses to run late.
The isolated intersection is at North Lakeshore Drive and W. Martin Luther King Drive/West Cooper Road in north Shreveport. This is where 9-year-old Piper Fitzgerald was dropped off by a Caddo Parish school bus on Tuesday, well after her normal drop-off time. "It was taking too long and I was getting, I was worried," recalled Piper.
Her grandmother, Judy Heath, says her husband had been there at the normal time to pick up Piper. "We usually would expect to pick her up between 1:00 (p.m.) and ten after 1:00. Well, my husband came to get her. And at 1:30 she still wasn't here and he had ran out without his cell phone," explained Heath.
So Heath says her husband drove back home and they called their daughter, Piper's mom, at work. She, in turn, called Donnie Bickham Middle School where Piper attended summer school.
She was told testing ran late and Piper would be along shortly. "I began to panic. Of course my daughter told me, 'get in the car and go back down their mama,' and so I did," recalled Heath.
By then, another fifteen to twenty minutes had passed when Heath rolled up and spotted Piper sitting at the bus stop by herself. "And I was shocked. I said, 'You're telling me the bus just put you out here and drove off?' And she said, 'Yes.' And I said, 'She didn't ask, you know, 'is your mom or your grandma or somebody come pick you up?' And she said, 'no,'" added Heath.
Caddo Parish Schools Spokesman Victor Mainiero was not available for an on camera interview for this story. But, he did tell us over the phone that he spoke with the principal Donnie Bickham and says that the principal told him that there was a meeting with parents before summer school ever started, informing parents that there could be delays in the bus schedule because of summer testing this week.
But Piper's family says the school could have easily used the automated robo-call system known as a "J-Call," but chose not to do so. Heath concluded, "I just want the school board to be more aware about, you know, children's safety. I mean, you know, it takes less than ten seconds to snatch a child."
Now, Heath and Piper's mom, Jennifer Fitzgerald, say they're writing letters to the school board, in the hopes of avoiding a similar incident in the future.