A school bus route in Washington state was the scene of a disturbance when an unauthorized young man boarded the bus and refused to leave.
The incident happened on an Eastmont School District bus at about 4:15 p.m. on Dec. 15, according to a statement by Superintendent Garn Christensen. The school bus driver had just unloaded several students at a stop when the strange man approached and boarded the bus.
Christensen said that the man “was distraught and did not appear well.” He seemed to think it was a transit bus, even asking to be taken to the town of Quincy 29 miles away and ignoring the driver’s statements that this was not a public bus.
The bus driver twice told the young man that he needed to get off, but the stranger refused. He went to the back of the school bus and “sat quietly.”
“The driver notified our transportation supervisor of what had happened and proceeded to Clovis Intermediate School, where he was met by law enforcement,” continued Christensen. The officers then removed the young man from the bus and and transported him to a local hospital.
“No students or employees were threatened or injured during the incident,” added Christensen.
STN reached out to the district on the subject of awareness and safety training provided to its school bus drivers, but had not heard back at this writing. A five-year District Strategic Improvement Plan lists this as a belief statement: “Trained directors and employees are essential for quality and efficient operations.”
During a workshop at the 2017 STN EXPO, law enforcement veteran and security veteran Jesus Villahermosa shared that school bus drivers should watch for suspicious strangers near bus stops and drive off if one is present, thus minimizing risk to all the students aboard. He added that children should be trained to leave the bus stop and go to a safer place if the driver passes them because that will serve as a signal to them that something is wrong.
“The bus is safest when it’s moving,” Villahermosa said. “When you’re stopped, you’re not checking around, checking your mirrors,” he explained. “And there are threats around.”
Read more about awareness and defense training for school bus drivers in the upcoming January 2018 issue of School Transportation News.