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Neenah family wants answers from school after son makes dangerous journey


NEENAH, WI (WTAQ) - Parents of a six-year-old Neenah boy are demanding answers from school officials after he missed his school bus Thursday, and walked almost two miles through dangerous intersections.

Heather Stanton says she was shocked and panic-stricken when her son Eston didn't get off the bus with the neighbor children.

"Where was my baby? I wanted to know he's safe,” Heather Stanton told FOX 11.

Eston says he was late getting out of class at Coolidge Elementary. When he walked outside, the bus was gone.

Eston said he feared that the doors would be locked after the school busses left. So, he made the decision to walk more than two miles to his house.

"My dad picked me up by the wall and stuff,” the first-grader described.

Eston had crossed busy intersections like this one and was approaching the series of Breezewood Lane roundabouts and the Highway 41 overpass. That’s when his dad, who was out searching for him, spotted him.

“I walked home two miles. I was getting scared that my dad was going to ground me for two months but he didn’t,” said Eston.

Eston's father Orrin says the staff should have kept a better eye on his son--and they should face consequences.

“If there are still kids running around the school after the last bus has gone, I would think they'd call the parents of the kids still running around the school. And that's not what happened,” said Heather. 

In a statment from Neenah Joint School District Superindendent Mary Pfieffer: 

“The Neenah Joint School District prioritizes the safety of our children in every way. Related to the transportation of our students, we have processes in place to serve our families. In this particular case, the bus was on time and waited for riding students to get on the bus until approximately 3:12 p.m., the normal departure time. Our supervisors remain with our children until all of them have been picked up. At 3:15 p.m., a supervisor completes a perimeter check and all students on grounds are brought to the office and parents are contacted. On the day in question, no children were seen by the supervisor.   

We take pride in working closely with our families. We continue to teach our children to listen to and follow directions. In this case, the student was given direction by his teacher at dismissal time that if he missed the bus he was to go to the office. We reiterate to our students that they are to remain at school until their ride home is secured. As partners, we have expectations of our children that we appreciate being reinforced by our parents.  

We are thankful the student is safe and we will continue working with all of our families to ensure the safety of our students.” 

Eston says the next time he misses the bus, he’ll stay put at school, or walk to a safe place with adults and call home.