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Toddler forced to walk home alone

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A Rosedale mother is furious at her child’s school after it put him on the wrong bus and dropped him off four blocks from their home, forcing the 5−year−old to walk the long distance by himself.

Nadine Graham, a single mother who works afternoons and evenings in Manhattan as a nurse, said she was frightened when she learned her son, Akeem Azan, did not make it to his after school program at the Precious Destiny day care center at 148−81 Brookville Blvd. May 11.

Instead of going over his homework and having fun with the other day care children, the kindergarten student was walking around the streets of Rosedale after he was dropped off by a school bus driver who discovered the toddler was on the wrong bus, according to Graham.

“Akeem is familiar with the area, but he has never traveled alone, she said.

The incident began when a teaching aide at PS 181, at 148−15 230th St., placed Akeem on a regular school bus instead of the usual bus he takes to go to the day care center at the school’s closing time around 3 p.m., Graham said. Even though Akeem told the unidentified aide that it was the wrong bus, the aide still placed him on the vehicle, which drops other elementary school students at preordained stops, according to the mother.

The driver dropped the boy at his first stop, three blocks away at Brookville Boulevard and 147th Avenue, and told him to walk to his house on at 241st Street and 148th Avenue four blocks away, Graham said.

“Even if my child was not on the bus list, why didn’t he take my child back to the school or the precinct?” the mother asked

A spokeswoman for the city Department of Education said the city is investigating the incident. A spokeswoman for Atlantic Express, which runs the bus route on which Akeem was mistakenly dropped off, said the driver has been suspended pending the DOE investigation.

The unidentified driver has said in a statement released by Atlantic Express that he had no recollection of Akeem getting on the bus.

“There is no question that the responsibility relies fully with the school and that school aide to put the child on the right bus,” said Atlantic Express spokeswoman Carolyn Daly.

The boy had to cross traffic and streets that were being worked on by construction crews, according to his mother. When he reached home, around 3:45 Akeem rang the bell but no one answered, so he stayed with a neighbor until Graham arrived home later in the night.

Usually, Akeem’s 15−year−old sister, Jayneisha, would pick him up from the day care center around 5 p.m. and walk him home, according to Graham. The nurse said an administrator at Precious Destiny alerted her to her son’s trek, only after her neighbor called the center.

“When I got home, I felt so angry,” Graham said. “How could this happen? I could lose my son.”

The mother said she has tried to talk to PS 181’s administrators to find out how Akeem fell through the cracks, but so far they have told her that the school is looking into it.

“Even if they made a simple mistake, he’s supposed to be in good hands,” she said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e−mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 146.

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