NEW ROADS — A Pointe Coupee Parish school bus driver suspended Monday after he left a 5-year-old student on his bus for several hours will face a tenure hearing to determine if he will lose his job permanently, School Superintendent Linda D’Amico said Friday.
The Pointe Coupee Parish School Board is obligated by state law to convene within 20 days after the suspension of Roger Dixon to determine his fate with the school system.
Dixon, who has been employed by the school system for more than 20 years, was suspended Monday after a Rosenwald Elementary pre-kindergarten student, Sebastian Stevens Jr., was left sleeping in the back of Dixon’s bus after he parked it that morning.
D’Amico confirmed Friday she also fired Dixon’s bus aide in the incident.
School policy requires bus drivers and their aides to scan the bus every time students are dropped off at school and at the end of daily routes to ensure no children are left behind, D’Amico said.
“He said (the aide) had scanned the bus that day, but obviously, she missed a child,” D’Amico said. “Ultimately, the fault falls on him, though. He was supposed to get out of that seat and walk to the back of the bus. This situation is very sad for us because he has been a loyal, top-notch bus driver. It’s shocking that this happened.”
D’Amico said the child, who habitually fell asleep during bus trips to and from school, was not harmed in the incident but woke up calling out for help once he realized he had been abandoned on the bus.
The bus was parked at Dixon’s home, at 302 Morningside St. in New Roads. Dixon was at a dentist appointment when the child woke up.
“He pushed the door open and walked along Railroad Avenue. I think he was trying to go to his grandmother’s house,” D’Amico said. “A good samaritan — someone that knew the family — brought him back to the driver, and the driver dropped him off at school around 11 a.m.”
The child had been on the bus since approximately 7 a.m. Monday morning.
Dixon declined to comment Friday about the incident.
To the parents and school district he simply said, “I’m sorry. I’m just sorry.”
Calls to Stevens’ mother were not returned Friday for comment.
Monica Fabre, principal at Rosenwald Elementary, said Friday she’s hoping the School Board will decide at the tenure hearing to terminate Dixon.
If the board doesn’t, Fabre has already told officials she doesn’t want Dixon driving her students anymore.
“I like Mr. Dixon; he has been a great manager on his bus. This is just one of the breaks to following protocol,” she said. “Every profession has those lines you just cannot cross.”