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article imageAutistic Boy, Left On School Bus Last Fall, Still Won't Talk

By Joan Firstenberg     Apr 3, 2009 in World
A 7-year old autistic Brooklyn, NY boy abandoned on a city school bus for hours last fall, is so traumatized he is still not talking.
Gustavo Romero is still scarred from the incident. His mother, Quetziquetl Agulo-Aleman says her son, Gustavo Romero simply stopped speaking after spending two hours alone on a cold empty bus last November.
And he isn't the only one this has happened to in recent months. Just last week, a 4-year-old disabled child was left on a school bus in Bay Ridge. And in October, a 3-year-old autistic boy was left on a bus in the Bronx for six hours.
City officials say they've investigated 29% more allegations of school bus incidents from September to December last year than in 2007. New York City Department of Education spokeswoman, Margie Feinberg points out that Gustavo's bus driver and his escort were suspended after the November 13th incident.
"We bus about 160,000 students every day and anecdotally, it is seldom when this incident occurs."
In Gustavo's case, bus driver Jean Durand and matron Marie Biscello have been arrested and are charged with endangering the welfare of a child. A spokesman for the Brooklyn district attorney's office says they could face up to a year in prison if convicted.
Gustavo's mother says that before her son was found in the parked bus, more than two hours after he was expected home, DOE and bus company officials told her that he had been dropped off with another adult, after which she set off looking for him around the neighborhood. The mother, Agulo-Aleman, broke down in tears, saying...
"When you hear you might have lost your son, you feel like you also lost your life. I couldn't walk. I couldn't feel. I felt empty."
Lawyer Douglas Emanuel who says he intends to file suite on the family's behalf, said there should be "zero tolerance" for these kinds of incidents, especially involving special-education students.
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