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Trespassing on Alabama school buses happened nearly two dozen times in recent years

Print Email >Marie Leech | By Marie Leech | The Birmingham News

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on January 30, 2013 at 6:03 PM, updated January 31, 2013 at 12:24 PM

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School-bus.jpg (file photo)   After a man killed a bus driver and took a young boy hostage in Midland City on Tuesday, school bus safety is a topic of conversation across the state.

The following is a list of trespassing incidents reported to the state Department of Education by local school districts.

The incident report was compiled by Joe Lightsey, director of pupil transportation for the Alabama Department of Education. The wording is as submitted by the local school district, with some edits.

[READ MORE: School buses are safe for children,

transportation officials say]

Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind

On a bus route to Heflin, the driver's husband, who suspected her of visiting other men while she drove the bus, caught the bus on a side road and boarded the bus while the driver was picking up a student. When he got on the bus, he had a high powered rifle and kidnapped the driver, according to the report. The bus aide immediately called the supervisor and drove the bus to Talladega. The supervisor called the Sheriff's Office and Talladega Police, who put out an APB on the husband and his car and subsequently pulled him over in Talladega. The bus driver refused to leave him, so he was never charged with any crime.

Autauga County Schools

A student who reportedly had a problem with another student on the bus got off the bus, went into his house, came out with both of his parents and began shouting. The driver got off the bus to speak with the parents. The father was insisting that his daughter did nothing wrong and the driver told him that the issue needed to be taken up with the school. The driver said the father became "very belligerent" and punched the bus before stepping on to the stairwell of the bus, while yelling and cursing. The driver said he continued to yell at the her and lunged toward her. His wife and a neighbor were also involved in the confrontation. According to the incident report, the father had his finger in the driver's face and pushed her into the door of the bus. The driver was finally able to get on the bus, get the door closed and wait for the arrival of the police.

On another occasion during an afternoon route, a driver stopped to drop off several students. Before the driver got to the stop, the driver had moved another student to the front seat because he had been disruptive. When the driver got to the stop and unloaded the students, one student was crying. The student's mom, who was waiting at the stop, got on the bus and began questioning students on the bus about who had hit her son. She was told that no one had hit him. According to the driver, she began yelling and pointing her finger in a student's face and accusing him of bullying her son. The driver instructed her to get off the bus, at which point the report states she turned to him and said, "You work for me. I pay your salary. You don't tell me what I can do." The driver told her again that she needed to get off the bus, and the mom finally left the bus, but told the driver that she was going to report her to everybody. This was the second time in three weeks that this parent had boarded the bus, according to the driver.

Chilton County Schools

Several instances of unauthorized entry have occurred in the past two years, according to the district. In some of those cases, the bus driver had disciplined a student or told them that they were going to be turned into the office and the student has slid down in the seat and called their parent from their cell phone. The parent was waiting at the bus stop to confront the bus driver before the students could get off the bus. The driver was caught completely off guard because they had no knowledge of the parent being called. On a couple of those occasions, the parents boarded the bus to confront the driver in front of the students. In some instances, the transportation supervisor spoke to the parents over a 2-way radio system and warned them that he was about call 911 because they were in violation of the law.

Coosa County Schools

On Sept. 22, 2011, a parent boarded a bus on Highway 22 East, when the bus stopped to pick up students. The man got on the bus and threatened the driver. The incident happened while the bus had traffic held up in both directions on a major roadway, with several students still on the ground waiting to board the bus. There was a warrant issued for the parent, and the case went to county court. The man's lawyer appealed the local judge's decision, and a circuit court judge ruled in favor of the parent because of the wording of the current trespass law.

Elmore County Schools

Two incidents were reported, both involving parents entering the bus and threatening students. They were asked to get off the bus and initially refused but finally left the bus.

Fayette County Schools

On March 13, a high school student checked out of school early, went to a bus stop with a parent and waited on the school bus. The driver made a stop for another students to discharge and before the door could shut, the high school student worked his way onto the bus and threatened a middle school student. The driver called 911 and then the supervisor. The Fayette County Board of Education pressed charges and went to court. The student was fined and is now not allowed within the safety zone of a school bus. This high school student was already on probation and was charged as a juvenile. This student is expelled from Fayette County Schools and at this time he is at boot camp for other charges against him not related with this situation.

Hoover City Schools

In September 2012, a driver reported that a mother who was concerned about her child's seat assignment jumped on the bus and demanded immediate action. The driver called the transportation office to advise them of the situation and she left the microphone keyed. The supervisor could tell the parent was upset so contacted the police. When the mother heard police, she vacated the bus and proceeded to call the principal to complain about the driver.

Huntsville City Schools

On March 21, 2009, a driver reported that a man stood in front of the bus and would not let the bus pass. He then approached the entrance door yelling at the bus driver for an unknown reason. The driver notified dispatch and continued with her route.

On July 23, 2009, a parent got on the first step of the bus and started making threatening statements to the bus aide and threatened to hurt the bus aide, according to the report.

On Sept. 11, 2009, two adults came to the bus with cell phones or recorders and tried to get on the bus but the driver informed them they could not get on the bus. One of the adults got on the second step of the bus and wanted to talk to the bus aide. The driver again informed her she could not get on the bus and she stepped down to the first step but still wanted to speak to the bus aide.

On Sept. 21, 2010, an angry parent got on the bus after the driver told her could not get on the bus. According to the report, the parent got in a child's face and told the child if he put his hands on her child again, she was going to hold him down and let her child hit him like he hit her son. The driver informed dispatch an angry parent was on the bus.

On Sept. 22, 2010, an angry parent got on the bus to confront the driver about his or her child's suspension from the bus. The driver called dispatch because the parent would not get off the bus, and the police were called. The parent got off the bus but would not get out of the doorway until the police arrived.

Jackson County Schools

A bus driver took up a cell phone on the bus because students were showing dirty pictures. The child told her father, who followed the driver until the bus had to turn around. The father parked in front of the bus while the bus driver was letting a child off. The man grabbed the door of the bus and placed one foot on the step of the bus. He would not let the driver close the door until she give him his child's cell phone. He said he was not leaving until he got the phone. So, the driver gave it to him and called the school.

Macon County Schools

The district reported an incident in which a parent with a weapon entered a school bus and, though he was charged, the judge dismissed the charges because he stated that the driver did not tell the parent to get off the bus.

Madison City Schools

Recently, a 19-year-old got on a bus with other students and jumped on a student. The school system supervisor had him arrested and he is facing charges for illegally entering the bus and assault.

Mobile County Schools

On Sept. 14, 2011, a parent boarded a middle/high school bus and repeatedly cursed and threatened to beat the driver up over a disciplinary problem that had been turned in to the school. The parent rushed on the bus before the driver could get all of the students boarded. The parent was asked repeatedly to disembark the bus but refused. The driver called police and the parent jumped off the bus. The driver pressed charges because the same parent had done almost the same thing the previous school year. Charges were filed for criminal trespass and the judge sentenced the parent to a $1,000 fine, anger management classes, probation and a public apology to the driver.

On Sept. 20, 2011, a driver had elementary students on board when a parent rushed upon the bus, catching the driver by surprise. The driver was already standing up with his back to the door because of a conflict going on between some students as they were about to get off at their bus stop. The parent tried to get past the driver and he stopped him with force, pushing him back to the stairwell and demanding that he get off of the bus. The driver warned the parent and at the same time assured him that his child was okay and the incident he was concerned about had never taken place. The parent then got off of the bus. The driver contacted the principal and the transportation supervisor, who reported the incident to school resource officer. The driver said he felt like this parent was unaware of what laws he had broken and thought if the parent was informed then he would not be a threat. The principal and the resource officer came to the same conclusion after interviewing the parent and did not press charges.

According to the district, other parents have boarded buses, but when asked to leave or read they the sign on the bus saying its illegal to enter without prior authorization, they back down. Also, Mobile County drivers are trained to close the door, motion the parent to the window and let them know to make an appointment at the school if there is a problem.

Monroe County Schools

On one occasion, the sister of a student got on the bus and threatened another student. Charges were not filed but the supervisor did call the sister and her mother to tell them they were in violation of the law and would be arrested if it happened again. The incident stemmed from a community dispute.

Montgomery County Schools

On April 9, there was a substitute driver on a particular route who was not familiar with the students that ride that bus. A high school student loaded the bus that morning, and beat up a 14-year-old student of Capital Heights Middle School. When the bus arrived at the school, the bus driver got the students off the bus and notified the administrator of the fight and identified the two students. The administrator said he did not know the high school child, and that she did not attend that school. The student proceeded to walk off campus. Middle and high school students aren't together on school buses. The student in question was approximately 19 years of age and attended Lee High School. When the supervisor went to the school to try to obtain information about the student in question, her cousin identified her. The next day the supervisor went to have the student arrested for trespassing on the middle school bus. The District Attorney's office notified him that since she was a student of Montgomery public schools, she was permitted to ride any school bus and could not be arrested for trespassing, and stated that the only recourse was to suspend her from the bus and from school.

Tuscaloosa County Schools

Tuscaloosa County Schools has had several instances with people boarding school buses. One man was given 30 days in jail for boarding a bus and failing to get off when the driver asked him. Another woman chased the bus to a stop, then boarded the bus and threatened students that had reportedly said something to her child. The woman would not leave the bus when the driver asked her to do so. She was charged and received probation. On another occasion, a man boarded a bus, threatened a child and then made a hand gesture of shooting him with a gun. A warrant was issued for his arrest. The system had more incidents of unauthorized boarding, but the people got off the bus when driver told them to do so.

Washington County Schools

In Washington County, there were at least three instances in 2012 of a parent attempting to board a school bus. Two of the parents never got on the bus after being warned not to board. One parent got on the bus so quickly, the driver could not stop the parent. The parent did get off the bus after the driver warned him.

One of the parents who was warned and did not board stood at the door and cursed at the driver in front of the children on the bus. The driver had her arrested for harassment. The arrested woman was angry because her kindergarten son told her the driver had slammed the door on his hand. The school system says his hand was not mashed in the door and the driver never closes the door until the children are out of the road and walking up their driveways.



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