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Boy's first day at kindergarten quite the adventure

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Kindergarten student at the wrong school for entire day
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It’s a story of two Jacobs that fortunately had a happy ending — but it may end up being a learning experience for local educators and child-care providers.

A series of communication breakdowns led to Jacob Rojo, 4, being dropped off at the wrong school on his first-ever school bus ride.

The tale involved a bus driver, two schools and a daycare.

Jacob is enrolled in afternoon kindergarten at Laura Secord School, and qualifies for busing back and forth to his daycare centre at Agnes Street and Sargent Avenue.

Belhen Rojo said Thursday the daycare put her son on a Winnipeg School Division bus, which dropped him off at Mulvey School — where he stayed until being put back on the bus after school to return to the daycare.

Mulvey and Laura Secord are both on Wolseley Avenue, Mulvey just west of Maryland Street, Laura Secord eight blocks west.

In all that time, no one phoned her to let her know what happened, said Rojo.

WSD did not provide an orientation session before Jacob’s first school bus ride to the first day of kindergarten, she said.

Nor did Rojo see it as her responsibility to be involved that first day — she left everything up to the other adults.

"Some things they need to learn on their own — I don’t want to be a helicopter parent," hovering over the kids, she said.

She was unaware the school bus for afternoon kindergarten stopped at more than one school.

"The daycare didn’t know it would be stopping at another school. They stop at Mulvey first and then at Laura Secord," she said.

The daycare didn’t call Laura Secord to check whether Jacob had arrived, Rojo said — the daycare expected Laura Secord to call home if there was any problem.

Turns out there were two Jacobs on the bus, only one of whom is enrolled at Mulvey.

"The driver called off the first name, and both boys got off," she said.

An educational assistant met the bus, and found there was only one of the two Jacobs who was on the list of enrolled students busing to school.

"They added him to the list, and kept him for the afternoon," Rojo said.

Mulvey staff put her son on a bus back to the daycare after school, mom said.

Meanwhile, Jacob was supposed to be at Laura Secord School all afternoon, but no one there noted his absence, and no one followed the policy of notifying parents when a child is absent, said Rojo.

Over at Laura Secord, Rojo’s seven-year-old daughter was supposed to meet Jacob after their classes got out so they could ride the school bus back to the daycare together. But they turned out to be on different buses even though they were going to the same place, and big sister got to the daycare first, where she alerted staff to Jacob’s absence. He arrived soon after.

All Rojo knew Monday was that somehow Jacob had been placed on a separate bus after school Monday.

But then on Tuesday, she said, "The bus driver apologized to the daycare staff for the confusion, letting them know Jacob had been at the wrong school all of Monday afternoon. I was informed by my daycare staff that same evening when I was picking up my children on Tuesday."

That’s when she finally heard the full story about Jacob’s big adventure.

"There’s attendance (taken) for a reason. No one cared where my four-year-old was that first afternoon," Rojo declared.

Winnipeg School Division said Thursday that Rojo’s version of events was pretty accurate.

"Definitely, something like this did happen," said communications officer Dale Burgos.

"At no point was he ever left unattended to," Burgos pointed out. "The division does have many checks in place — unfortunately, on this day, not all of those checks were made."

Burgos said senior administrators are reviewing what happened that afternoon, and talking to the schools and transportation department about policies and procedures, but will not identify what staff at each of the schools did and did not do.

At Mulvey, "They did internal checking. I can’t get into too much details," he said. "The child was vocal, and did share his name with the school. It made them believe the child belonged to their school."

Burgos said Jacob has been happily attending Laura Secord since Tuesday.

"There have been apologies made. Bottom line, it actually happened, we apologized for it," he said.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

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