A Lakeland mother is glad her 6-year-old daughter made it home safely, after getting off at the wrong bus stop.

  • Rachel Jones said she is concerned by bus driver's actions
  • School says it was the driver's first incident in 30 years
  • 6-year-old Juliet Jones says long walk didn't scare her

The incident happened Aug. 15. Rachel Jones said she was waiting on Old Polk City Road for her daughter, Juliet, to arrive on the bus from McKeel Academy Central.

When the bus arrived, her daughter wasn't there.

She said the bus driver was unsure where her daughter was.

"He had no idea she had gotten off. That is my concern, that he didn't even know she was on the bus, where she had gotten off," said Rachel Jones.

It sent her into a panic.

"Horrible scenarios run through your head that she's been kidnapped, that she's been, you know, someone picked her up. That's she's dead. Someone hit her on the side of the road," Jones recalled.

Authorities were called and the mother searched the neighborhood. Then she learned Juliet had gotten off at the wrong bus stop and had walked 1.7 miles home. Much of the route didn't have sidewalks.

"All I can say is that God was with her," Jones said. "There's just no way that she could've made it home safely. That road is very busy. There's wrecks on the road all of the time."

The 6-year-old said the walk home didn't scare her.

"Because I was brave," said Juliet Jones.

When asked what she learned from the incident, she said, "Well, I can't do that again."

The director of The Schools of McKeel Academy said the bus driver was given a letter of concern. Director Alan Black said the driver has operated school buses for more than 30 years, and this was the first incident.

"All I can say is that God was with her. There's just no way that she could've made it home safely. That road is very busy. There's wrecks on the road all of the time." - Rachel Jones

Black said that only kindergartners are not allowed to get off of the bus unless a parent is present. He said the older children are expected to recognize their bus stops.

According to Black, the internal investigation into the matter led them to the decision that further training wasn't necessary. He said his bus drivers transport around 100 kids a day and it takes time for them to learn each student's bus stop.

Rachel Jones believes more should've been done.

"I hope that the school system would take it more seriously. And would make sure that these kids, people know when they get on the bus and how they get off. Just have compassion for the parents when something like this happens. We have yet to receive an apology from the bus driver," Jones said.

Jones said her daughter's principal, however, was very apologetic and allowed Juliet to attend after school care for free so she wouldn't have to ride the bus home again.