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Parents Want Boston School Policy Changed After Kindergartner Was Left Alone For 3 Hours

By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV
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Jim Armstrong is an Emmy-award winning reporter who joined WBZ-TV in...
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BOSTON (CBS) – Hunter Sether is anxious to walk the streets of his new Charlestown neighborhood Halloween night, but his parents are furious he also had to do it last Tuesday.

His kindergarten teacher at the Eliot School in the North End mistakenly put him on the bus Tuesday afternoon, even though he was supposed to stay at the building for the afterschool program that day.

When Hunter’s dad arrived to pick him up, the five-year-old wasn’t there. At that point, everyone realized that Hunter had essentially been missing for almost three hours.

Hunter’s mom, Ellen Kang-Sether, describes finding out what happened that afternoon while she was at work: “It’s pure panic because it’s like, is he going to be home, is he outside waiting for us, did he walk back to school?”

It turns out, Hunter managed to find his way home about a block away. The door was locked, so he stayed put until his dad got there.

“He found him upstairs outside of our apartment sleeping in the hallway,” explains Kang-Sether. “He managed to find a blanket and was sleeping.”

The Eliot School’s principal was so upset about Hunter getting put on the bus by mistake, Kang-Sether explains, she went to the family’s home to apologize.

But the family doesn’t blame the school for what they say was an honest error. Hunter’s parents believe the problem exists with the Boston Public School’s official transportation policy. The BPS website is clear: “Please note that bus drivers will drop off students, including kindergartners, at the bus stop even when the parent is not there.”

It’s a policy Kang-Sether calls “crazy”.

“Kindergartners are five, at most, not even six years old,” she says. “If my husband and I left our son home alone for even five minutes, we would both be arrested. Why is it that the Boston Public School can get away and do that?”

Even if the school put Hunter on the bus mistakenly, she says, he should simply have been driven back to the building after no one was there to meet him at the bus stop. Then, she says, this never would have happened.

A Boston Public Schools spokesman tells WBZ that policymakers there are now reviewing the district’s transportation policy and evaluating options when it comes to drop-off rules. But he says it is too soon to talk about when, or if, any changes might be made.

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