NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Metro Schools parents are demanding answers after they said their children were left to walk along a dangerous road in the heat Friday afternoon.

They were dropped off by a substitute bus driver, according to Donelson Middle School parent Jessica Hoover. She got a call that her daughter was walking home from school along Stewarts Ferry Pike. She thought about the lack of sidewalks first, then the heat.

"It was really terrifying," she said. "I'm really glad that the mom had been there.

Another mom happened to be driving by and recognized the bus riders walking. Hoover's daughter was still a mile away from home.

"They were coated in sweat," she said the other mother told her.

The other parent gave Hoover's daughter a ride home.

Her daughter told her they had a substitute bus driver that day, who seemed confused and skipped several of their bus stops.

"They said, 'What's wrong? Can we help?" Hoover explained. "[The bus driver] said she couldn't understand the map she'd been given."

When the bus driver did stop, a group of about 10 students, including Hoover's daughter, decided to get off. She said they didn't know if or when the driver would stop again and were worried about being too far from home to know the way.

"We all just want our kids safe, and I feel like we trust the drivers to keep them safe," Hoover said.

Hoover and her mother both reached out to Metro Schools and were told they are "looking into it."

Metro Schools Spokesperson Dawn Rutledge sent News4 a statement about the incident:

"This is a double route shared by two full-time MNPS drivers. One of those drivers was absent that day and another MNPS driver stepped up to cover the route.

  • The driver was unfamiliar with the route. As common practice with high school and middle school students, drivers often rely on those students to provide guidance on their stops in an effort to ensure students get home as close to their designated times as possible.
  • While the driver is provided a route sheet, there is no way for the driver to know which students are at which stops. The list only includes the number of students, not names. This is a safety and security measure.
  • Some students told the driver to make stops where they should not have exited the bus.
    As you are aware, the district is short several drivers. This requires us to double routes in some instances. Our full-time drivers are troopers in taking on those routes to help ensure students get to and from school every day.

If a parent has a concern about their child's bus route, they may call the Family Information Center at (615) 259-INFO (4636) or the helpline number included on the back of the school bus."

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Reporter

Rebecca Cardenas is a Murrow-award winning journalist who joined News4 as a reporter in September 2017. She currently covers the court systems in Middle Tennessee.

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