PATERSON — In what the district is calling the "second incident of blatant neglect" by one of its contracted bus services, another young child was found all alone on a school bus.

According to the Patterson Public School district, a 6-year-old left behind Monday had been on a bus route to his school, the Urban Leadership Academy. But a teacher noticed the student wasn't in class, and the principal called the bus company to check on the child, the district told New Jersey 101.5.

A bus aide had exited the bus with the children to use the school bathroom — in violation of regulations, officials told The aide was supposed to check all of the seats to make sure they were empty, according to that article.

It said instead, the 6-year-old was found asleep, 40 minutes after his scheduled drop-off time more than two miles from the school.

The incident was just days after staffers noticed another child, a 6-year-old girl, was missing shortly after her bus arrived at the Dale Avenue School 8:45 a.m. Friday, according to an Associated Press report. The girl's mother confirmed the child had boarded the bus. The private company that handles the route found the girl unharmed a short time later on its bus and she was taken to school.

In each case, district officials said in a statement to New Jersey 101.5, a driver and aide were fired. The district also said the two bus companies (US Student in Friday's incident, A1 Elegant in Monday's) would be fined.

In light of the two incidents, the district said, Superintendent Eileen Shafer scheduled a meeting with the owners of US Student and A1 Elegant. The district said the companies would be put "on notice."

"This is unacceptable and I am not having this on my watch," Shafer said. "We cannot jeopardize the safety of our children due to an adult's neglect; and I will be perfectly clear today when I meet with all bus companies — any future incidents like this and the company will be fired."

The district said Shafer had contacted the families of both children. The principals of both schools "followed proper protocols," according to the district's statement.

A spokesperson for US Student said in the Friday incident, the driver had dropped the students off for school and had gone to get gas when the driver was alerted about the missing student. She said that at no time during the incident was the child unattended or in danger.

The spokeswoman said at the meeting with Shafer it was reinforced that the drivers and aides need to check the buses for any students. She said it was a similar message to the one company communicated during a meeting of its own on Saturday.

"We addressed the issue and hopefully this won't happen again," she said.

The district said under a new policy, buses will not be allowed to leave the school until someone watches either the driver or aide walk the length of the bus to check for childrren.

According to the Paterson Times, A1 Elegant is owned by the brother of City Councilman Shahin Khalique. A call and email seeking comment from the company were not returned.

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