3-year-old left alone on school bus for several hours, parents say

TAUNTON, Mass. -- A Taunton family is demanding answers after they say their 3-year-old son was forgotten on his school bus and left alone for hours.

Xavier Ebersold was picked up by the bus for the Triumph, Inc. Head Start Program around 8:30 a.m. Monday.

The bus arrived at the school around 9:15 a.m. The boy’s parents allege a teacher at the school marked their son as present even though Xavier never exited the bus.

They say their son was found strapped in his car seat shortly before noon. They told Boston 25 News that Xavier was located in the bus that was parked in a lot nearly six miles from his school.

"The first thing he said was 'momma I cried for you, nobody let me off the bus,'" said Stephen Ebersold, the boy's father. "I don't know how you could forget him, I can't see how I would forget him."

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The child’s mother told Boston 25 News reporter Drew Karedes that she received a call from the school’s secretary shortly after 11 a.m., inquiring about her son’s absence.

That’s when she and her husband went into panic mode. They say it was the program’s executive director who subsequently located their son on the bus and then contacted them to explain his whereabouts.

"It's kind of nerve-racking to think your child is not going to come home because someone didn't take the 30 seconds to walk to the end of the bus," said Ebersold. ”What would’ve happened if this had happened on a colder day or in the middle of summer?”

The Ebersolds are puzzled as to how the bus driver and a monitor on board could have missed Xavier since the 3-year-old needs to be unbuckled from his car seat.

The parents are also curious as to why it took hours for the school to realize Xavier was absent.

"There’s obviously things that could’ve been done and should’ve been done. Changes need to be made to keep kids safe," said Ebersold.

The boy’s parents say they were later informed that the bus driver, the monitor and the teacher involved are now off the job.

Karen Ennis, Triumph's executive director, sent the following statement to Boston 25 News:
"Triumph's first priority is the care and safety of our children.  We are cooperating with the parents and our licensing authorities to conduct an investigation.  All staff that were involved in the incident have been removed from duty. We will provide further information when all facts have been thoroughly examined and verified."

"To me there's no excuse for what happened to my son today," said Ebersold.

A Department of Children and Families spokeswoman confirms it is aware of the allegations and is now investigating.

Xavier’s mother says she also tried to file a police report. However, she claims she was told nothing could be done because no crime had been committed.

She plans to drive her son to school from here on out.