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Special Ed Girl Mistakenly Left on Freezing Bus While Driver Ate Breakfast

A five-year-old special education student in Homecrest, Brooklyn was left alone on a school bus for an hour yesterday morning while the bus driver and his wife enjoyed breakfast in a nearby diner. Iman Mirza, who is developmentally disabled, is recovering from a fever after the incident, according to her father—the temperature was about 20 degrees in Brooklyn when she was left behind.

Mirza's father says it wasn't until the driver, 78-year-old Phillip Vallone, finished dining that he discovered the girl and realized she hadn't been dropped off with the others. He notified the school, but a Department of Education spokesperson tells the Daily News they did not arrive at the school with Iman until 20 minutes later. Vallone and bus matron Madelyne Shedd, 66, were arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child. But the girl's father tells the Post, "I feel bad for the guy. I didn't want to file charges against him, because I didn't want to see a nearly 80-year-old man behind bars."


Meanwhile, on Staten Island, parents are irate after belatedly learning that they dropped off their children at a frigid, unheated elementary school yesterday morning. The students reportedly sat in the bitterly cold PS 26 for more than an hour before being evacuated to a church a half block away. "When they announced we were going to the church, everybody jumped up and down and cheered because we were going to be warm," fourth-grader Christopher Ferreira told the Staten Island Advance. The DoE claims the heating system failure, caused by work with the gas line in the street, was fixed by noon, at which point the 170 kids walked back to school.

But parents weren't informed until dismissal time, and now they're hopping mad. "I can't believe we didn't get a call; that makes me really angry," parent Colleen Bonomo, whose third-grade son, Devin, has asthma, fumed to the Advance. "They don't give us respect as parents. For a little field trip they make us fill out permission slips, and now they're walking them down the street without telling us?"

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