Recent news reports show that the problem of parents trespassing on school buses has become relatively common — bearing out what presenters Denny Coughlin of School Bus Training Company and Bret Brooks of Gray Ram Tactical, told attendees during a live event at the STN EXPO in July.
The safety trainers stressed that one of the most common security threats bus drivers may face is an angry parent illegally boarding, or attempting to board, the school bus. In these incidents, parents may be trying to confront either the bus driver or a classmate of their child’s, as demonstrated by a few recent cases.
One example is that of a California dad who followed his son onto his bus one morning in order to physically attack a student who had reportedly bullied the boy.
Another case involved a West Chicago parent who removed his son as well as another student from the school bus. The trespassing came after the man was involved in a minor car accident with the same bus.
Not surprisingly, school bus intruders are not always the parents of the bus riders. Often they can be other family members or individuals with no relation to the students inside.
In another recent case in Worcester, Massachusetts, parents became angry as they waited for their children to exit the bus. The school bus driver was letting kindergarteners off first and checking for identification of those picking them up, as per district policy. The parents of the older children in the bus reportedly became impatient and shouted obscenities and threats at the driver, while another encouraged the students to exit via the emergency back door. However, the parents argue that the driver was refusing to let the students off for a long period of time. One teen, a sister of one of the students, reportedly boarded the bus and punched the bus driver. She was subsequently charged with assault and battery.
A South Carolina man was arrested last week after reportedly following a teenage girl for several blocks to her school bus stop. When she entered her bus, he proceeded to do the same. The driver then ordered the man to leave, but he did not comply until the girl said she was calling law enforcement.
During the EXPO session, both Coughlin and Brooks offered suggestions for drivers on how to prevent trespassing and what to do in case of an attempt, while reminding the audience to never grant entry into a bus to someone who should not be there.
They suggested redirecting individuals to the side window of the bus instead of allowing them to enter the door. Then they recommended asking for their name and concern, and continually addressing them by their name to build rapport, which might calm the individual and de-escalate the situation.
Coughlin emphasized that if this does not work and someone continues to be hostile, drivers should not hesitate to contact their supervisors or law enforcement for help.