The mother of a boy dumped off a bus and left standing on the roadside during a Hastings school's outing says her son could have been killed as a result of what she says was the school's sloppy supervision.
Sharon Ryan, of Hastings, is still angry and upset about the incident two weeks ago, when her 12-year-old son Ngatau was kicked off the bus by a seventh-form prefect for misbehaving, as two classes from Te Kura Kaupapa O Ngati Kahungunu ki Heretaunga, in Stock Road near Flaxmere, travelled to a cultural ceremony in Masterton.
Another pupil got off and stayed with Ngatau as the doors shut and the bus drove off, leaving the boys stranded on the side of the main highway near Norsewood.
"They could have been killed," Mrs Ryan says. The truck drivers on that road wouldn't see two boys on the side of the road, the way they boot it down there.
"Or they could have been picked up by a nutcase.
"How could the bus driver leave two babies on the side of the road and drive away? I could have ended up burying my son."
She is also angry that the driver, "a nanny", and the prefect in charge of the children on the bus, made no attempt to tell the school about the mid-morning dumping of the boys until later in the day, after the ceremonial presentation of a cloak to a school in Masterton.
She admits that her son is "no angel", but no matter how badly behaved, she said, he should never have been dumped "virtually in the middle of nowhere".
"They should have booted his backside - but not leave him on the side of the road, out in the sticks."
Ngatau and his friend were rescued by a woman traveller who stopped and asked if they would like a lift.
She took them to her mother's house in Dannevirke, and rang the school in Flaxmere to report what had happened.
Mrs Ryan says the principal of the school, Cordry Huata, got in his car about 1.30pm and drove down to Dannevirke to collect the boys.
It was not until after that time that the group in Masterton phoned to report the dumping of the boys.
The pair arrived back about 5.30pm.
In the meantime, Mrs Ryan went work at 3.30pm. She was on the night shift, packing meat at Progressive Meats. At 7pm she rang home and spoke to Ngatau. As her son poured out his story she could hardly believe what she was hearing.
"It took a few minutes to sink in," she said. " Then I told my boss I had to go home. I was livid."
Her next call was to Mr Huata, who was still at the school. "He didn't say much. He said he only had the boys' side of the story."
By this time, Mrs Ryan says, she was extremely upset. "I cried all weekend. I was so angry and upset. It was a real fright to know he was left on a road going to nowhere."
Ngatau, on the other hand, wasn't upset at all until his mother told him he wasn't going back to the kura. Then he begged and pleaded so vehemently she agreed to let him stay. Mrs Ryan says the school should have had teachers or other adults on board the bus to supervise the children, instead of leaving it to another pupil to keep order.
She now wants an assurance the school will implement proper policies "so this can't happen again".
She also wants to find out the name of the woman who picked up the boys, so she can thank her.
An incident report filed at the school by a teacher states that he and another person arrived in Dannevirke by car 10 minutes after the school bus arrived, at about 11am. They did not see the boys anywhere on the roadside, and 15 minutes driving around Dannevirke failed to find them. When they got back to where the bus had parked, it had already left for Masterton.
The Hastings group arrived in Masterton about 12.30pm, presented the cloak, then rang back to Hastings to report the boys missing at about 1.45pm. By that time Mr Huata was already on his way to pick them up, after being summoned by the woman who picked the boys up.
Mr Huata was not available for comment yesterday.