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Kindergarten student left behind during field trip
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A Turlock mother’s worst nightmare was realized Monday when her 6-year-old son was left behind during a school field trip to the Fresno Zoo.
Krystal Aranda said she was hesitant to allow her son, Xavier Diego, to board the school bus for the Osborn Elementary kindergarten trip to Fresno after hearing that one bus left the school grounds without doing a head count. But she was reassured by the other parents, she said, and told to “trust the school.”
It wasn’t until 2:20 p.m. on Monday that Aranda knew something was wrong. She said someone from Osborn School called her husband and let him know that Xavier had been left behind at the zoo. When Aranda found out her son was not on the school bus, she called the school and found out that he was in the bathroom when the buses left. A stranger was talking with her son when a parent from Osborn who had driven their own vehicle to the zoo overheard that Xavier was left behind. This parent called the school and informed them of the situation and offered to drive Xavier back to Turlock.
Xavier arrived back to Osborn safe and sound, but Aranda is shocked that her son was left in the first place and concerned about the way the school district has handled the incident.
“Thank God the parent who helped him was a good person, but who knows what could have happened?” Aranda said.
The list of questions Aranda has for the school district include: Why wasn’t a proper head count done before the bus left Fresno? Why did the parent volunteer assigned to chaperone her son allow Xavier to go to the bathroom by himself; and why didn’t she notice that he had not returned from the bathroom? Why was a parent who was not authorized to transport Xavier allowed to drive him from Fresno to Turlock — a two-hour trip? Why did the school bus not come back to get him?
Aranda said that school officials have not answered her questions and tried to put the blame for the entire situation on the substitute teacher assigned to Xavier’s class that day. Aranda and her husband, Rigo Diego, have yet to receive an incident report on the situation, despite multiple requests.
On Wednesday, Aranda made a statement to the Turlock Police Department. According to Aranda, the officers informed her that the situation did not meet the requirements for child endangerment, but that she could file a civil child neglect lawsuit.
“This could happen to somebody else and they would never see their child again,” Aranda said.
After the same substitute teacher who did not notice her son was missing on Monday was allowed to return to the school on Tuesday to teach, Aranda requested Xavier be moved to another school. Aranda was told Xavier would not be allowed to transfer schools. When Rigo Diego went to the school district requesting to file a complaint, Aranda said he was told to talk to several people and only after insisting on making a complaint was he given a form to fill out.
“I saw at the beginning the school district trying to help me out, but now they are trying to throw it under the rug so nobody knows what happened,” Aranda said.
The Journal contacted the Turlock Unified School District on Friday about Aranda’s claims, but administrators did not comment by press time.
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.