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Parents express shock after Leeming schoolboy left unattended on bus for hours

The boy was picked up but remained on the bus when it returned to its depot in Welshpool. (Wikimedia: ZidaneHartono/CC BY-SA 4.0)

Parents whose children use the same bus service as a Perth boy who was left unattended for almost five hours on Wednesday have described the incident as shocking and distressing.

The Public Transport Authority (PTA) is investigating after the Year 7 child, who attended the Leeming Senior High School Education Support Centre, was left on the bus by himself.

The child was picked up on Wednesday morning but remained on the bus when it returned to its depot in Welshpool and wasn't found until the driver returned for the afternoon pick-up.

The PTA said the bus driver and a bus aide had been stood down until further notice.

Parents concerned

Parent Melissa, who didn't want her last name to be used, said her Year 10 son used the same bus service at the school and was concerned after finding out about the incident.

"The upsetting part is what it's doing to the kids, because he catches the bus. He gets the bus service home and he's very distressed about what happened," she said.

"That could happen to him and that is the most concerning part … there's no communication from the [bus] service at all to the rest of us to reassure anybody.

"That's the main worry — the kids get so upset, so anxious, so worried."

Viktoria Sliusenko's son sometimes catches the same bus as the child who was left unattended for hours. (ABC News: Kenith Png)

Local mother Viktoria Sliusenko, whose 16-year-old son lives with disability and uses the bus service on occasion, said the incident would shock a lot of people.

"I do have a child with special needs myself. It's very, very worrying," she said.

"My child has got cerebral palsy … I can't imagine honestly it gives me shakes inside."

'Normal procedure followed'

Bus operator Horizon West said it notified the PTA of the event after finding the child and was conducting its own review while cooperating with the authority.

"We are relieved to understand that the child is in good health and appears unharmed from this incident," the service provider said in a statement.

"The normal procedure for checking that all passengers had exited the bus was followed after the morning service was completed.

Parents say children at the Leeming school are upset about what happened. (ABC News: Kenith Png)

"It's very concerning that the presence of the child passenger was not picked up as part of this process."

The PTA said it introduced child check alarms on new contracted school buses in 2013 and retrofitted them on existing buses.

A spokesperson said the alarm is activated once the ignition was switched off, which compels a driver to walk to the back of the bus to disable it before a siren sounds.

However, the spokesperson would not comment on the alarms in relation to this specific case.

Leeming SHS Education Support Centre and the WA Education Department have been contacted for comment.

School 'should face questions'

People with Disabilities Australia president Sam Conner said her heart went out to the parents.

"If I were the parents from that school, I would be asking questions and I would demand some answers," she said.

"I would like to ask what happened when the child didn't turn up to school, did the school send a message to the parents?"

She said it was horrifying to think what could have happened if the circumstances were different. 

"You just wonder what would happen if they hadn't used the same bus for that run in the afternoon," ms Conner said.

"We know that neglect and abuse happens on school buses."

The threat public and private transport poses to some people with disabilities is often skipped over, according to Ms Conner, whose son with autism has been abused on a school bus before. 

"The Disability Royal Commission, which we have right now, has a range of things they haven't actually examined, and transport is one of those things."

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