St. Johannes College is embroiled in controversy after renewing a contract with a school van operator that left one of its kindergarten students wandering alone in the streets.
In February, she said she received a call from a stranger who said her son was by himself after school. She later found him at the entrance of another school in Kowloon Tong, despite one of the bus company’s escorts — known as “bus nannies” — claiming that a parent picked him up at St. Johannes’ school gate.
It turns out that the van operator made students switch vehicles on their way from the school to their final destinations, and left her son behind at the transfer point. The mother, however, said she was never aware of this arrangement.
Meanwhile, the school told the Education Bureau that parents had consented to the route. It also added that the bus company had stopped transferring students to different buses after the incident. The mother said she was later told that the company fired the bus nanny who claimed her son was picked up.
She says she is now speaking out because the school — which charges between HK$5,200 and HK$6,600 for kindergarten tuition per month — has renewed its contract with the company.
She wrote that she recently asked the company to promise that it would not make students transfer buses. Someone at the company reportedly told her that she should stop using the van if she wasn’t satisfied. She also alleged that the school has been unresponsive to her concerns.
A woman who answered St. Johannes’ general number on Friday told Coconuts HK that the school’s management is handling the case, and that she had “no comment.”
Netizens on the Baby Kingdom forum advised the mother to change schools, and called for police to investigate the case.
The mother has also reached out to the Education Bureau, which told Coconuts HK that it leaves transportation to each school’s discretion. It said that it has asked St. Johannes to adhere to the Guidelines for Ensuring Safety of Pupils on School Transport Vehicles.
“The Bureau will stay in touch with the school, and remind the school to strengthen communication between parents and school bus companies,” the bureau said in an email.
While the guidelines do not appear to prohibit transferring students onto different buses mid-journey, they do require bus operators to keep guardians informed about the details of bus routes.
They continue: “Escorts should ensure that no student is missing, and all the students reach schools safely and are collected by their parents/guardians on their homeward journey.”