On Thursday, November 1, 2018, Chase Scheehle rode the school bus home for the first time—except it didn’t take him all the way home. Instead, Chase was dropped off miles from his actual stop and forced to find his own way home.
Chase has autism and struggles with anxiety, which makes social situations and new situations, including riding the bus home, difficult for him. It took courage for him to get on that bus in the first place, and the harrowing experience that followed is not making it any easier for him to try new things.
The bus stopped roughly 3.6 miles from Chase’s home, and the bus driver instructed him to get off. Chase says that he tried to tell the driver that this was not his stop, even presenting a form that explicitly stated where he was supposed to get off. But he was forced off the bus anyway.
“The one thing that I remember most clearly is she said to me, ‘You’re either going to have to walk from here or you’re going to have to call someone to come get you,’” says Chase.
Luckily, Chase did make it home okay on his own. But he is terrified to continue riding the bus, and his mother is irate.
“This was his biggest fear, getting off somewhere and not knowing where he was at,” says Chase’s mother, April Scheehle. “It’s ridiculous that it happened, and it shouldn’t have.”
A Polk County Schools spokesperson has apologized for the incident and claimed that it was a substitute bus driver who did not know the route very well. That person is on paid leave pending an internal investigation. April, however, wants to see the bus’s video camera footage to see what happened for herself. Thus far, that evidence has not been provided.
“We need to be able to trust these people with our children,” says April.
Because of his mother’s job, Chase will have to continue riding the bus despite his anxiety that he might not make it home, a concern which we have to agree is certainly founded since Thursday’s incident.
Check out the video below to learn more about the terrifying situation that never should have happened to Chase Scheehle.
Sadly, this is not the first time something similar has happened at Polk County Schools. Just a month earlier, a 6-year-old Lakeland student was dropped off at the wrong location and had to hitchhike home.
April and Chase hope that the school learns from their mistakes and brings back the requirement that their bus drivers must at least have a high school diploma. The rule was reversed earlier in the year due to a shortage of bus drivers. But parents like April worry the absence of this requirement makes buses less safe for their children.