ST. PETERSBURG — A mother arrived at Imagine Charter School on Thursday and discovered that her 5-year-old son wasn't there — he was riding a school bus around town.
It took a little more than an hour for Julian Lacombe, a kindergartener, to be reunited with his mother. The child wasn't injured or alone, but his grandmother, British Dancy, called the incident a "total scare."
"They put him on a bus when he doesn't take one," she said, adding that her daughter feared Julian could have gotten off at a bus stop and gone missing.
In an email Thursday, principal Angela Prince confirmed the incident occurred. She said the student likely lined up with other children for the bus, going unnoticed by a substitute teacher. Bus drivers know not to release any children they see on the bus who aren't on their route, she wrote.
"(The driver) called the school as soon as she realized that he did not have a stop and returned him to school," she wrote.
Imagine Charter School escaped a 90-day notice to close this year. A majority of School Board members rejected a recommendation last month by superintendent John Stewart that the school be closed because of long-standing academic problems.
Imagine has earned three F's in four years, with the lowest FCAT scores this year of any public school in Pinellas County.
Dancy said Thursday that the board should have closed the school. She filed a complaint with the district about the bus incident.
"After today, Julian will no longer be attending Imagine," she said.
Cara Fitzpatrick can be reached at email@example.com, (727) 893-8846 or on Twitter @Fitz_ly.