Toronto mother launches lawsuit after daughter with special needs left on bus for hours in the cold
Laura Mastache is suing the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), Stock Transportation Ltd. and the school bus driver for $700,000 after her daughter was left on a school bus for hours during a cold, winter day.
“I torture myself thinking what she went through, how she was in that moment,” Mastache told Global News.
On Jan. 23, her daughter Wendy was picked up from home in a small school bus at around 8:30 a.m. Laura said she received a call from the school at around 3 p.m. saying her daughter hadn’t been seen all day and that she never made it to her special needs class at York Humber High School.
”Police told us the bus driver confessed in a way she locked her in the bus, she didn’t see her,” Laura said.
Her daughter was missing for close to six hours and was left on the bus alone in the cold.
”I cannot see a yellow bus without thinking how could it be possible that nobody saw her,” Laura said.
The 19-year-old student has autism, epilepsy and has a developmental disability. Wendy also has difficulty with verbal communication. Laura said her daughter has experienced regression and anxiety since this happened, adding Wendy is now afraid to sleep alone.
“I don’t know it’s really true. I don’t know what happened I don’t know what my daughter went through,” Laura said.
“At this point, I don’t know what she went through. I cannot ask her because she can get upset.”
“This type of situation should not happen,” Shannon Padippurathu, Laura’s lawyer, said. He added he thinks “it’s a very important case for all parents all organizations that are dealing with children in the province.”
“There had to be a breakdown in communication, negligence on so many different levels for this to actually transpire.”
Mastache said she questions how the bus driver couldn’t see her daughter on a small school bus and said the school should have notified her sooner. The TDSB’s policy was not to call parents of absent students who are 18 and over. However, that policy changed after this incident.
“As it is a legal matter now, we can’t provide much comment on the lawsuit itself,” TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird said.
“We have now taken steps to ensure that the parents of students with unique needs over the age of 18 will receive attendance calls,” Bird said.
As for the school bus company, they wouldn’t comment or answer any questions. At the time, they said the bus driver was fired for not following protocol by not checking the bus after her route. But Laura said the firing the driver isn’t enough and that she fears the driver can continue to work with other children.
“Are we going to wait until something else happens to another child?” Laura said.
Maybe another child is not going to be as lucky as Wendy.”
© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.