New Haven police have arrested a school bus driver after two Wilbur Cross High School special needs students were left on the bus Thursday.
Police said the driver, 53-year-old Marilena Monroy, of New Haven, told officers said was unaware there were children still on the bus.
Police said the students on the bus were a 17-year-old girl who is non-verbal and suffers from several health disorders and a 16-year-old boy who has autism. The boy called his mother and told her he was locked in the school bus after the driver left them there.
The boy’s mother was able to track her son’s location through his phone, drove to Woodward Avenue, found the bus and called police at 12:15 p.m.
The report says the bus wasn’t running and the tinted windows were all closed, except for the driver’s window, which was open slightly. The outside temperature at the time was 90 degrees, police said.
When officers opened the door, they found the children, who were alert and able to walk off the bus. Officer Francisco Ortiz located the student pickup list. Through the process of elimination, he identified the girl, drove to her home, found her father and brought him back to the bus.
She was later taken to Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital to be further evaluated and she was released after being checked out.
Police said they viewed the bus camera system, which indicated that driver parked the bus at 11:44 a.m. and the students were inside, alone for at least a half-hour.
Ortiz called the New Haven Police Department school resource officers, who informed administrators and counselors and they responded to the scene.
The driver was not at her apartment and police called the bus company, which called the driver, who returned to the bus.
Monroy told police she drove home after she thought all the students had been dropped off, a relative picked her up and left the property. Then when her employer called her, she returned promptly.
She was charged with two counts of risk of injury to children.
The State Department of Children and Families was notified and a case opened.
Officials from the New Haven Board of Education have said there were several clear violations of protocol, committed by the driver, according to police.
New Haven Public Schools COO Will Clark confirmed that district staff, along with New Haven Police, the state Department of Children and Families and bus company staff all responded.
He said in a statement that the students were checked and appear to be OK.
“Leaving the vehicle with students on it is an unacceptable breach of training and protocol. The expectation of the District is that these protocols are followed every time on every run. Anything short of that is unacceptable as a breach of the contractual duty and obligations of safety,” Clark wrote.