Wild ride: ‘Lost’ driver keeps Windsor Terrace boy on school bus for hours, family claims • Brooklyn Paper

Wild ride: ‘Lost’ driver keeps Windsor Terrace boy on school bus for hours, family claims

Long night: PS 369 student Dominic Czaplinski was allegedly left on a New Dawn Transit school bus on March 12 for more than four hours while the driver apparently was lost bringing him home, according to his family.
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

As if waking up for school isn’t hard enough.

A Windsor Terrace boy with special needs is afraid to get back on a school bus after a driver for the Brooklyn company that takes him home from class shuttled the youngster around for more than four hours while apparently lost, and didn’t get the kid home until well after nightfall, according to his grandmother.

“He cries every day that he doesn’t want to go to school,” said Sheryl Chavez. “He’s afraid it will happen again.”

Dominic Czaplinski, 6, a student at PS 369 in Fort Greene, suffers from attention-deficit disorder and is on the autism spectrum, his grandma said.

On March 12, a driver for Bergen Beach–based New Dawn Transit different from the one who normally transports Czaplinski to school picked him up at 9:20 am — two hours later than normal. But the real problems didn’t start until after school let out, according to Chavez.

The driver was supposed to retrieve Czaplinski from his schoolhouse at 2:30 pm, but didn’t arrive until around 5 pm, and when the tyke had yet to walk in his door an hour after that, his grandmother began to worry, she said.

Chavez then called the bus matron — an onboard staffer in addition to the driver — but just got the run-around, she said.

“I called the matron at 6 pm and said ‘Tell me where you are so I can pick up my grandson,’ ” Chavez said of her conversation with the New Dawn employee. “She kept promising 10 minutes. She said the bus driver wasn’t answering her.”

Chavez claimed she sent a relative to try and find the rogue vehicle, but the search proved unsuccessful, and said she grew even more livid when New Dawn allegedly stopped answering her calls around 8:30 pm — even though her grandson still wasn’t home.

“No one is supposed to leave until the last child is home,” she said.

A tired, hungry, and upset Czaplinski finally returned to his house around 9:20 pm, and the driver told Chavez he got lost, she said.

“Still to this day I don’t know where he was,” Chavez said.

The boy’s family filed a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office of Pupil Transportation — which facilitates students’ transit to public and private schools across the city — and Chavez hopes officials will appropriately punish the driver, whom she feels has no excuse.

“How do you get lost in 2018 with GPS and everything?” she said.

The city is investigating the incident, according to a spokesman for the Department of Education’s Office of Pupil Transportation, who said the appropriate actions will be taken, but declined to comment further.

Reps for New Dawn did not return repeated requests for comment.

And controversy is not new to the bus company, which fell under new ownership last year after an Illinois-based company purchased it.

Bergen Beach residents have long lamented noise and pollution caused by its buses, which are based on E. 69th Street.

Reach reporter Adam Lucente at alucente@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Lucente.

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