A school field trip lasted longer than anticipated on Friday, when 75 Gorton Junior High students were left waiting for their buses in Boston for nearly three hours.
The seventh graders departed for the Boston Museum of Science from the school at about 7:30 a.m. with teachers and chaperones. According to a parent, the students were set to return at roughly 5:30 p.m., but when they exited the museum at 3:30, their buses were nowhere to be found.
The parent, who asked that her name not be used, said she was in communication with her son throughout the ordeal. While the students waited, the teachers and chaperones got the students dinner. Finally, after roughly three hours, the buses arrived. The parent said her son called her to tell her he had boarded the bus at 6:15, and once they were on, the students made it back to Gorton by 7:30 p.m.
There was also a semi-formal dance that night at the school, which the staff extended until 10:30 p.m. so the stranded seventh graders could still attend.
Both the parent and Dennis Mullen, director of secondary education for Warwick Public Schools, commended the staff and chaperones for handling the situation well.
“They were in good hands,” said the mother. “The teachers took good care of them.” The mother said she isn’t upset with Gorton or the School Department, but with the bus company, First Student.
Mullen and Steve O’Haire, transportation manager for Warwick Public Schools, said the school department is looking into why the buses were missing for three hours.
“The bottom line is, where were the buses?” asked Mullen.
The mother said she heard the buses had to park further away from the museum than usual, and got stuck in traffic while heading back to the museum. Unfamiliar with the Boston area herself, the mother called the Boston Police Department to ask how much traffic would be in that area. She said Boston PD told her in peak traffic, it could take 45 to 90 minutes for the buses to make their way from their parking spot to the museum. Three hours, the mother explained, was not likely. Neither O’Haire nor Mullen could say if the drivers of the buses used Friday were experienced in the route or not. They also did not want to speculate on where the buses were, or what took them so long to get back to where the students were waiting. It’s also unclear if the drivers were in communication with First Student on Friday, or if they were in contact with the teachers and chaperones on the Boston trip while they waited.
Mullen said the investigation is ongoing, and they are working in conjunction with Anthony Ferrucci, director of school business affairs, to reach out to the drivers.
Mullen and O’Haire said they likely would not have any answers to the mystery until early next week.
“There are several issues I’d like to discuss with First Student,” said O’Haire.