Thirteen McKinney ISD parents are suing Durham School Services L.P., McKinney ISD and a bus driver after students were not taken on their regular bus route.
On March 6, the lawsuit was filed alleging that the driver “willfully” detained 30 students, ranging from 6 to 11 years old, on Feb. 28 when the driver diverted the bus and arrived 30 to 45 minutes late, according to The Dallas Morning News. Claims in the lawsuit include general negligence on the part of McKinney ISD, Durham and the driver.
The driver, Isabel Doe, whose last name is unknown, was supposed to go from McClure Elementary School to Creekview Estates, a neighborhood about 1.5 miles east of the school. The bus instead ended up in Allen and finally stopped going south on U.S. 75 near Stacy Road before returning to the route, according to the plantiffs’ attorney Kim Jones Penepacker at Aulsbrook Law Firm.
“As a result of the heat, the children on bus route 159 suffered heat rashes, hives, vomiting, and excessive sweating, among other heat-related injuries. The children were additionally traumatized, fearing that they had been kidnapped,” the lawsuit read. The children were also allegedly pouring bottles of water on themselves in an effort to try to cool down because they were “desperate” and “didn’t know what to do.”
The bus company allegedly attempted to contact the driver but said they were unable to reach her after a malfunction with the communications system, according to an email sent to parents from McKinney ISD, obtained by The Dallas Morning News. Supervisors tracked the bus through GPS until it returned to its intended route and until all students got off the bus.
“Student safety remains our top priority, and we apologize for any concern or inconvenience caused by this situation,” an email from Durham read. “Durham is taking steps to correct it to ensure that all students arrive at their stops at the designated times, and is taking measures to rectify issues with the communications system.”
The lawsuit said the cause for the breakdown in communications is either a technological defect or an intentional act by the driver.
In an email sent to parents the following day by Geoff Sanderson, chief accountability officer with McKinney ISD, said the bus driver was new to the afternoon route from McClure Elementary and “mistakenly diverted from the route, which led to delays in students arriving at their afternoon bus stops.”
Local Profile reached out the McKinney Police Department but did not receive a response prior to publishing.