MAITLAND, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - A six-year-old girl got off at the wrong bus stop and wandered the streets alone for hours, according to authorities. Police officers in Maitland searched for the girl, until she was located by a stranger.
Now, her mother is demanding answers from the bus driver. The district says the parents are to blame, not the bus driver, and that's not sitting well with Leticia Valrie. She says her daughter got off at a stop closer to home, but at the wrong stop with no parent there to greet her. She says her daughter never should have been let off there.
"My mom was not there. My sister was not there. My dad was not there. Anybody wasn't there, so I was alone the whole time," said first-grader Gabrielle Balladin.
"We could not find her. We were unable to locate her for at least two hours," said Valrie.
It was a mother's worst fear.
"She was frantic. She was by herself. She thought we left her."
Valrie says she was waiting to pick up her daughter at the bus stop, but her daughter wasn't on the bus. Valrie called the district and police. The girl was found crying near the Publix, across Howell Branch Road, two hours later. She had gotten off at the wrong stop.
"I walked home by my own self and I went on the sidewalk," the child said.
"I was frantic! I thought my child was hurt, dead, somebody kidnapped her. What parent should have to go through that? There should be a better protocol when it comes to transportation, point-blank, period!" said Valrie.
A spokesperson for Seminole County Public Schools says that the first week of school, the drivers aren't familiar enough to know which students get off at which stops, saying it's the parents' responsibility to make sure their children know their bus stop. Valrie says her traumatized daughter will never take the bus again.
"You shouldn't let a child off the bus a six years old by themselves if they don't see someone or recognize someone that is there for them."
The district says this does happen unfortunately, especially with younger students. They say they're looking into some kind of system to track the students getting on and off the buses, but no word when that would be put in place or how much it would cost.