HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — – For close to an hour, three Harrisburg parents were preparing for the worst when they found out their 5-year-old daughter was missing.
Her parents said their daughter, Layla, got on the wrong bus, and the driver dropped the kindergartener off alone on the street, despite a Harrisburg School District policy requiring a parent to be present.
Layla’s parents said her daycare was the first to notify them that there was a problem.
“It’s my daughter. I have no idea what’s happening to her. I don’t know if she’s alive,” said Jeremy Wood, Layla’s father.
After close to an hour, Layla showed up at home — not her daycare. Wood said she was walked there by family friends who recognied her while she was walking all alone.
Leanna Bhengu, Layla’s mother, said the district wasn’t filling in any of the gaps.
“All they could say is that ‘they’re going to look into it and call me back,’ and they never called me back,” Bhengu said.
District officials eventually talked to Layla’s stepfather, Mario E. Harrison Dunn, who admits he was seeing red. He said the ball was dropped when there was no replacement for Layla’s normal bus guide.
“I don’t know how the parents or teachers that are supposed to be taking care of this line are allowing this randomness to be happening, anyway,” Harrison Dunn said.
“If she happens to not be there that day, why didn’t the school have someone else there?” Wood added.
Bhengu is a bus driver herself for Central Dauphin School District. She said drivers are in constant communication, and children are always found within 5 to 10 minutes after a mix up.
She hopes Harrisburg follows suit and gets more organized so no other child has the same experience.
“I hope they update their system and the way they handle things,” Bhengu said.
Layla’s parents are hoping to get those answers Monday, when they have a meeting scheduled with the school district.
ABC27 reached out to the district for a comment, but was told that they were not available due to the Good Friday holiday.