School bus driver guilty of forgetting special-needs boy for hours

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Marilyn Tarlton

A former school bus driver has admitted to leaving a York special-needs child in her van for more than five hours last year.

Marilyn M. Tarlton, 67, of Priority Road in York City, appeared in York County Court on Wednesday, April 10, where she pleaded guilty to the first-degree misdemeanor of child endangerment, according to court records.

As part of her negotiated plea agreement, Tarlton was sentenced to four years of probation by presiding Common Pleas Judge Michael E. Bortner.

Bortner ruled that her probation can end after two years if Tarlton has fully paid her court costs, court records state.

Tarlton's public defender, Hollianne Snyder, couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday. The prosecutor in the case declined comment, according to Kyle King, spokesman for the York County District Attorney's Office.

Court documents filed by York City Detective Tiffany Pitts in late August state that while transporting students on March 16, 2018, Tarlton failed to check the F&S Transportation van to make sure all of the students had gotten off.

It was between 8 and 8:30 a.m. when she dropped off students at "the old Central School," now the York Learning Center, which serves special-needs students, police said.

A 16-year-old nonverbal special-needs student was still in the van, but Tarlton failed to notice him, documents indicate.

Alone for hours: Tarlton drove home and parked the van in her driveway, where it remained for 5½ hours until she drove back to the school to pick up students between 2 and 2:30 p.m., documents state.

Temperatures that day were in the 40s, police said.

A student who boarded the van asked Tarlton why the 16-year-old was still on the bus, according to police.

"That is when Tarlton first realized that (the youth) had never gotten out of the van," Pitts wrote in court documents.

Tarlton drove the students home, including the 16-year-old, police said; she dropped him off between 3 and 3:30 p.m.

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"She stated that (the youth) must have had a key as no one was home," documents state. "She did not knock on the door of the residence, she simply assumed since there were no cars there."

Tarlton told detectives she didn't try to speak with the youth because he is nonverbal, documents state.

Got inside safely: Prosecutors have said the boy made it into his home safely.

F&S Transportation reported the incident that day, after Tarlton told them about it, police said.

At the time, she was a part-time driver.

Tarlton told police that when she worked full time for F&S, she was required to fill out a form stating she had checked the bus to ensure it was empty, according to documents.

She said once she became part time, "no one asked or enforced filling out the form so she didn't," Pitts wrote.

By the time Tarlton was charged in August, she was no longer employed by F&S Transportation, Pitts has said.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.