Young students mistakenly put on bus

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PALM DESERT, Calif. - The first week of school  was a bit scary for parents at a Desert Sands Unified School District elementary school.  Several kindergartners and one first grader were mistakenly put on a bus after school.  One student was even dropped off in a unfamiliar neighborhood. 

The school district says it was a mistake and it's working to make sure it won't happen again, but parents we talked to at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School say it never shouldn't have happened in the first place.

"It was really scary," said parent Brianda Ayon. 

It was supposed to be the start of a great year, but when it came time to get picked up, one first grader couldn't be found.

"On the first day they made us sign a paper, is it going to be for pickup or for bus, so why would they do that if they didn't pay attention?  It was very confusing," said Ayon.

District spokesperson Sherry Johnstone says 5-year-old Muhammad Chaudhary was supposed to be picked up by his parents, but instead was put on the bus.

The District's policy states students who are in kindergarten or pre-k are not allowed off the bus unless there is a parent there to greet them, however that is not the case for students who are in the first grade, so Muhammad was let off the bus.  After an hour in the heat, he was found crying on the sidewalk nearly a mile away. 

"It's scary, a scary feeling when your kids is no where it's supposed to be in," said parent Edwin Melendrez.

"If that happened to my son, I would be scared and that is not fun," said parent Paola Medrgao.

The Desert Sands Unified School District says it's looking to change their policy, requiring parents to meet their first graders at the bus stop at least for the first month.  That way, the district says, if a student is mistakenly put on the bus they won't be let off but instead brought back to school. 

"I get it was the first week of school, but they had all summer to prepare for it," said Melendrez.

"I would rather come for my son, I don't trust them," said Ayon.

Parents we talked with say it happened again the next day to about six kindergartners.

"They got put on the bus when they were not supposed to be put on the bus at all.  It was scary for other parents, it was one of my cousins and one of my friend's child and it was not that fun of an experience to have," said Melendrez.

Because they were kindergartners, the kids were not let off the bus and eventually taken back to school.

One of their parents, who didn't want to be identified, told us they were impressed with the way the school's principal handled the situation.  They said she stayed with parents all afternoon until the situation was resolved.

Even still, many parents aren't ready to trust the system just yet.  

"I don't feel that good about the bus," said Melendrez.

"They could be lost, there are a lot of bad people who can take the people away," said Medrgao.

Desert Sands Unified School District says part of the problem is that the school has a brand new principal and every school in the district has a different system for how students get picked up.  It is now looking at creating one universal system so this won't happen again. 

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