Charges dropped for driver, attendant accused of leaving special needs student on bus

Gale Brown and Gwendolyn Simmons

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Charges have been dropped for a Polk County driver and attendant who are accused of leaving a child with special needs on a school bus.

The 13-year-old victim had to escape the bus through an emergency window. He hitchhiked 30 miles to his home.

The Our Children’s Academy in Lake Wales student had fallen asleep and gone unnoticed by both the school bus driver and attendant, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. Officials said it actually happened twice in one week.

Both suspects admitted to having a student de-activate the child reminder system prior to both incidents, deputies said. They also admitted they did not check the bus for students before leaving, according to the sheriff’s office.

The driver, Gale Brown, and attendant, Gwendolyn Simmons, had been charged with negligent child abuse. However, the State Attorney’s Office dropped the charges.

Read more about the incident and hear what Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said about the women. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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