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Local News

February 12, 2011

4-year-old left on bus for hours

A 4-year-old Oneonta pre-kindergartner was left for hours Friday morning on a Birnie Bus, which should have taken him to Head Start at the State University College at Oneonta, officials said. He is in good condition, school and police officials said.

The boy, whose name was withheld by police because of his age, was found by a Birnie employee at 1:45 p.m. when the bus was being readied for the afternoon run, Oneonta Police Chief Joseph Redmond said. The bus had been parked outside since 9:18 a.m., he said.

The Oneonta City School District is the lead agency for state Universal Pre-Kindergarten funding in Oneonta, including Head Start, school Superintendent Michael Shea said.

It contracts with Birnie Bus Services in Oneonta for all district transportation business.

The matter is still being investigated, including a review of the bus video to see if any offense was committed, Redmond said.

The boy was transported by fire department ambulance to A.O. Fox Memorial Hospital in Oneonta for evaluation, where he was met by his parents, he said.

Shea said he responded immediately when contacted by the company about 2 p.m. He was glad the student was in good condition, he said.

"Birnie Bus has provided excellent service over the years, but I'm disappointed with the latest event," he said.

He said he expects the company to deal with it in an appropriate manner.

He is monitoring the situation, but did not say what measures should be taken because it involves company personnel, he said. He will meet with company officials again Monday to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Two calls to Birnie Bus for comment were not returned Friday afternoon.

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