Oak Grove kindergartner dropped off at wrong bus stop, parents outraged

MEDFORD, Ore.– A Medford kindergartener was dropped off at the wrong bus stop this week, terrifying her father.

She was only returned to her parents after some help from a good Samaritan that happened to be in the area.

Joshua McKinnis was waiting for his daughter at her normal bus stop, but she never arrived.

He says that’s when he started to panic.

McKinnis said, “there’s not really anything like not knowing where your kids are.”

The Oak Grove Elementary parent was waiting at his daughter Lilly’s bus stop on Ross Lane this week, but when the bus came, his daughter never got off.

That’s because she had already been mistakenly dropped off four blocks away and she had no way of finding her dad.

McKinnis said, “you’re supposed to be able to trust the bus that they’re going to bring your kid home and you’re supposed to be able to trust the school that they’re not just going to up and lose your kid and that’s about what happened.”

McKinnis said the school put Lilly on a different bus and he wasn’t told.

He said he spent a half an hour on the phone with the district trying to find his daughter, when a stranger contacted him through Facebook.

A good Samaritan named Jake told him he found Lilly crying and wanted to make sure she got home safe.

McKinnis said, “it was a relief knowing that I knew that someone was helping her out but it was also pretty terrifying because then you’re wondering how long has she been walking down the side of the road.”

Medford School District said the change in buses was an attempt to keep students safe by making sure they didn’t have to cross busy North Ross Lane.

It says communication with parents could have been better.

Assistant Superintendent Brad Earl said, “there were many things that we just frankly did not follow that we would normally follow so we’re going to use this situation to get back to our expectation of flawless execution when it comes to this kind of situation.”

Earl said MSD has been dealing with a shortage of bus drivers, which makes it difficult for drivers to know where each kid needs to be dropped off.

He said the district has been working for a year and a half on a badging system that tracks when and where kids get on and off the bus.

Earl said, “what that will include eventually is an app that the parent can have on their phone that shows exactly where their student is on the route and where they got off.”

Earl said the badging system is already being used at four schools and they plan to expand it to three to four more schools next month.

For his part, McKinnis says his daughter will not be riding the school bus again.

He said he plans to sue the school district and the bus driver.

NBC5 News reporter Derek Strom is from Renton, Washington. He recently graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University with a degree in Broadcast News and a minor in Sports Management. He played in the drumline with the WSU marching band. These days, he plays the guitar and piano. Derek is a devoted fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and Kraken.
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