EXCLUSIVE | School system makes changes after student in wheelchair falls on bus
Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017
News 12 at 6 o’clock/NBC 26 News at 7
RICHMON COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – Kian Carter’s son, Jaquan, fell over in his wheelchair as he was riding in a Richmond County school bus. Baffled as to how an event like this could take place, Carter reached out to us at News 12.
We spent several weeks asking questions to the mother and to Richmond County schools and we can tell you that county-wide changes started this week.
School leaders say after completing their investigation it was human error that led to a 12-year-old Richmond county student in his wheelchair falling over mid-bus ride.
Kian is her 12 - year -old sons advocate, “It’s for me to protect him, to speak up for him.”
Carters' son Jaquan suffers from trisomy. She describes to Kelly the list of hurdles that her son faces, “He can’t walk and he can’t talk. He can’t eat anything by mouth, totally disabled. Just a whole lot of medical problems--a whole lot.”
So when her sons' bus driver said Carters' sons' wheelchair fell over on the way home, she was irate.
“He was crying,” Carter explained, “He was really crying like it was a hard fall to him.”
A knot on his head…proof of that fall.
“It hurt me. It hurt my feelings,” stated Carter. “I keep asking myself how they would let this happen.”
When she asked how he fell..., “The lady in the back that sits there with the kids said they didn't have all of his straps down and one wouldn't work.”
Federal law requires four straps anchor down wheelchairs on public schools buses.
But after an internal investigation, Richmond County School Systems says the straps weren't broken they discovered Jaquan "had not been strapped in properly due to a training deficiency”
The school spokesman tells News 12/NBC 26, "We are heartbroken by the events that happened on the bus with this student."
"Previously attendants and drivers were trained when they were first hired with refresher training as needed. In light of recent events, training will be much more frequent in order to ensure the continued safe operation of our buses."
Kian says the school system has offered to help with medical bills and a school physical therapist fixed the chair.
However, Carter remarked that she’s more concerned with making sure this doesn't happen again, “I’m talking about what happened and why did it happen. And I didn't appreciate it. And I want something done about it.”
A spokesperson stated that as a direct result of this incident the school system is putting all special education bus drivers through a week-long re-training on not only how to strap wheelchairs in but how to load them and everything else that is related to special education transportation needs.