Denver Public Schools has trouble locating student on bus; family wants answers

DENVER -- A missing child sent loved ones into a frenzy after their second-grader didn't get off the bus on Thursday afternoon from KIPP Northeast Elementary in Denver.

The child is OK and eventually made it off the bus safe. Come to find out she was put on another route. Now the family wonders what went wrong, and why there wasn't communication from Denver Public Schools.

“It’s the worst pain ever,” 7-year-old Azareya Apodaca's mom, Jackie Jaimez, said. “To hear that your daughter’s missing."

“They said they put her on red line three,” said Brittany Cortez, Apodaca's aunt.

When Cortez went to pick up Apodaca at school, she was told her niece was already on the bus. When Cortez went to the bus stop, there was no sign of a bus or her niece.

“Drove around the block couldn't find her, so I start panicking,” Cortez said.

The school called all the bus drivers and none of them said they had Apodaca.

“I didn’t know what to do,” Jaimez said.

The district didn't know where her daughter was. Moments later, she showed up at the bus stop. After an hour of searching, Apodaca was dropped off safe and sound.

“I just happen to look out and that’s when the bus was pulling up,” Apodaca's grandmother Celina Ornelas said.

The family wants to know why the bus was so late.

“They had told me that, the bus that she usually gets on was too full, so they put her on a different bus," Jaimez said. “I asked them, like why didn’t you let me know, like, you should’ve just let me know.”

The school uses overflow buses when the main ones are full, and that's the bus Apodaca was on. It drops students of at different times.

"Safety is a top priority at DPS, especially when it comes to transporting our kids to and from school," DPS said in a statement.

"DPS Transportation utilizes Bus Bulletin, a transportation notification system that notifies DPS dispatch if a student has a delayed drop off.

"DPS dispatch then notifies parents of the delay so that everyone is informed of the situation. In this situation, the bus radio communication process did not work as intended and the delayed drop off was not communicated.

"The issue with the communication process is resolved and we will use this as a learning opportunity moving forward."

“They need to work on communication,” Jaimez said.

Apodaca's grandmother said this is not the first time they've had issues with the district. The family will no longer put their children on the bus.