Disabled girl left on Corvallis school bus for 3 hours


The Ravalli County Sheriff's Office said it is investigating a report of a Corvallis school bus driver leaving a developmentally disabled girl on the bus after she was transported to school.

The Corvallis School District said the driver forgot to take the student off the bus. The district said the girl missed three hours of school before she was discovered, and then was delivered to school for the second half of the day.

The girl was picked up from her house Thursday morning of last week and taken to school.

Family members said the 16-year-old high school girl has the cognitive ability of a 4-year-old.

The sheriff's investigation said the girl needed to be harnessed in the bus seat for safety.

"The child is 16-years-old," said Ravalli County Undersheriff Steve Holton, "but disabled to the point where she could not maneuver around the bus and had to sit in a restraint system."

Holton said his office is investigating whether there may be "criminal or negligent circumstances."

"This is a portion of the population that we need to take care of," he said. "The child was unable to get off the bus by herself."

The family of the girl had no comment on the case. The girl is now at home and not attending Corvallis school.

The district said the driver immediately reported the incident to her supervisor. School administrators said they are conducting their own investigation.

Corvallis School Superintendent Tim Johnson said "safety is the highest priority for our students and staff."

As a result of this incident, he said:

The district has revisited how attendance information is shared between drivers and special services staff. We have modified the attendance process to include a two-way verification of student attendance and transportation to and from school.

The driver has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. That driver will have no driving duties for the district for the remainder of the year.

The Ravalli County Attorney's Office will review the sheriff's office findings.

A family member of the girl did say they are in contact with a private attorney.

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