Language barrier put child on school bus in...

Posted at 6:57 PM, Jan 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-08 22:43:03-05

CAPE CORAL, FLA. - If you're a parent, your heart will race when you hear Lili Tello's story.

"I got a phone call yesterday about 3:15," Tello says. "That my son never made it to the care facility where he was supposed to go."

Tello's 7 year old son, Jordan, never made it to daycare Thursday afternoon. She says when she got the call from the center, the thoughts she had haunted her, since it's been less than a year since she's lost both of her parents.

"My son is all I have left," Tello said. "I didn't know what to think. I felt like my heart was on the floor like i just had no life into me."

Tello says her son was dropped off several blocks away from his stop, so she called the school to find out where he was. She says the response she got made her even more frantic.

"They told me they had no way to find out how to track my son," Tello said. "So I'm on the phone, freaking out for 15-20 minutes, driving on my way to the school from Fort Myers to Cape Coral."

Once she got to the school, she says the bus driver called her, and that's when things get worse.

"Not even five minutes of being at school the bus driver calls me -- not that I have any issues with Spanish people because I am hispanic; I'm fluent in both languages. The bus driver did not talk English," Tello said. "My son does not talk Spanish so my son is telling the bus driver 'this is not my bus stop, this is not where I get off at'."

Despite her son's request, Tello says the bus driver told him to get off the bus. She says communication is the issue.

FOX 4 reached out to the Lee County School District to find out what the language requirements are for bus drivers.

A spokesperson district e-mailed FOX 4 the qualifications. One of the requirements on the list is for drivers to have "the ability to read, write, and follow instructions in the English language."

As a bilingual parent, Tello says the "ability" should really be a fluency for this not to happen to anyone.

"They need to speak english and Spanish," Tello said. "You have to understand, you have to have that language, you have to understand what the kids are saying."

A spokesperson with the school district says she verified with the school that a teacher had a conversation with the driver, unrelated to the incident, and he spoke clear English. The spokesperson adds, while they can't verify the conversation between 7-year-old Jordan and the driver, each bus has a paper log that includes each child's name and stop that can be referenced as necessary.

Tello tells FOX 4 her son Jordan was able to find his way home after walking several blocks.

"It was by some miracle Jordan found his way home," Tello said.