Second Minneapolis girl left at wrong school bus stop

10:47 PM, Aug 31, 2012   |    comments
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Cienna Peoples
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  • MINNEAPOLIS - For the second day running Friday, a Minneapolis parent reported a child dropped off at the wrong bus stop.

    KARE reported Thursday on the case of Lady Our Love McInnis, a four-year-old Bryn Mawr Elementary preschool student dropped off at a homeless shelter, two miles from her bus stop.

    On Friday, KARE learned of a five-year-old girl, Cienna Peoples, who got out of her school bus at an intersection eight blocks from where the drop-off address written on her bus rider ID tag.

    "I was crying. I was upset," Cecelia Peoples, Cienna's mother, told KARE.  "I'm praying it doesn't happen again." 

    Cienna started kindergarten Wednesday at Whittier Elementary in South Minneapolis. At the end of the day, she was supposed to ride the bus to 28th and Oakland, near her daycare provider's house.

    "Because it was her first day, I was waiting at the bus stop," Peoples explained. "The bus pulled up and there was no Cienna."

    The driver told her he didn't know her daughter, because it was the first day of school. Before the conversation went any further, Cecelia received a call from a stranger saying she had found the girl.

    She had exited the bus eight blocks away, on the other side of Interstate 35W, at 27th Street and 2nd Avenue South.  Kelly Mueller, a nurse at Abbott-Northwestern Hospital, was driving down 27th Street and spotted the little girl.

    "I went to park my car and I saw this little girl run after the bus, as if she left something on the bus," Mueller recalled. "And then when I came around to the house she was knocking on our front door."

    Kelly Mueller and her significant other, Brendan Viele, see a lot of school buses on their block.  And children often wait outside of their home for buses to arrive.

    But this is the first time a child asked to come into their home. And they could tell by looking at Cienna's bus tag, which stated a drop-off location of 28th Street & Oakland Avenue South, that the girl was in the wrong place.

    "You'd think the bus drivers would check on the way out to make sure they're getting off," Viele said. "It's the first day of school, and they're five, six years old."

    Viele and Mueller also saw Cienna's mother's phone number on the bus ID tag, and called her.  They stayed with the little girl until her mother arrived to retrieve her.

    "I told Cienna, 'Baby, an angel was watching you today,'" Peoples said.

    "It was just the grace of God that someone was there who cared enough to make sure she got to where she needed to be safely."

    Peoples had planned to get an explanation from the driver the next day on Thursday.  Instead, she was in for another shock. When she met the bus at 28th and Oakland, Cienna was not on the bus a second day in a row.

    "The driver said, 'I don't know who your daughter is. Do you see her on the bus?'" Peoples said.

    She said tried to explain to him that the girl's tag said she was to be dropped off at 28th and Oakland.

    "He said, 'Well I don't read bus tags. They should know where they need to get off the bus at!'"

    By then Peoples was standing in the doorway of the bus, and told the driver she wouldn't leave until he told her where he left her daughter.

    At that point her cell phone rang again. A Spanish-speaking parent saw Cienna get off the bus again at 27th Street and Second Avenue South. That parent turned Cienna over to another Minneapolis Schools bus driver, who called Peoples and agreed to wait for her.

    On Friday, the third try was a charm.  When the bus pulled up at 28th and Oakland, Cienna came down the steps and onto the street to meet her mother.

    But Peoples did not credit the driver or the school district.  A friend who was one the bus -- a second grader who knows Cienna from day care -- kept the girl from exiting at the wrong stop.

    The head of transportation for the Minneapolis Public Schools elected not to comment on the story. She referred KARE's questions to the public relations staff at the school's central offices.

    The district's spokesperson did not offer any explanations for what happened to Cienna, but reminded KARE that the district runs 267 bus routes daily. She also advised that all parents double check the accuracy of the bus rider ID tags pinned to students' backpacks.

    That was not much solace to parents like Cecelia Peoples, who has kind hearted strangers and good Samaritans to thank for her daughter's safe return. 

    "These are babies," she said. "Not everybody is a good Samaritan."

    (Copyright 2012 KARE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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