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Grandmother Upset After Autistic Student Forgotten On School Bus, Again

NORTH HIGHLANDS (CBS13) — A North Highlands grandmother is outraged after a bus driver failed to drop her special-needs grandson off from school.

The boy is an elementary school student with Twin Rivers Unified School District, and the family says this isn't the first time this has happened.

Not once, but twice, Marie Umbay frantically worried, wondering where her special needs grandson, James, was when he hadn't returned home from school on time.

"I want him to be safe. If something happened to him...I just can't imagine," said Umbay.

On Wednesday, for the second time in as many school years, 11-year-old James, a fifth-grade student in Twin Rivers Unified School District, was forgotten on his school bus. James is autistic. He can talk, but can't carry a conversation.

"They know he got on the bus. He didn't just disappear," said Umbay.

It turns out, James had fallen asleep on the bus, and it wasn't until the driver ended his route on Richards Boulevard, that he noticed the boy still there.

Another driver was called in and brought James home an hour later.

"Sure it's an accident, but we can't afford accidents like that with our children, especially."

It was déjà vu for Umbay who says last year a different driver did the same thing. She says she didn't put James back on the bus again until this year, hoping that after complaining to the district, things had changed.

Umbay said, "They didn't learn anything last year from it because obviously, it happened again."

The school district addressed the most current incident in a statement Thursday, saying in part: "At no point was the student left alone on the bus. As a result of this incident, we are taking a closer look at transportation protocols and procedures."

Umbay really hopes so for the sake of every special needs student who needs extra special care.

"It's unacceptable. I'm not gonna let anything happen to my grandson," she said.

Umbay says James will not be riding the school bus anymore. She says she wants to have another meeting with district officials about what now appears to be a recurring problem and says she did call the district Thursday and left a message.

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