HomeDriversUpdated: Washington Bill to Outlaw School Bus Trespassing Becomes Law

Updated: Washington Bill to Outlaw School Bus Trespassing Becomes Law

Richard Lehnart’s death will not be in vain.

Senselessly, the 72-year-old Pasco School District bus driver was stabbed to death on Sept. 24, 2021, as he was preparing to drive 35 students home from Longfellow Elementary School. Joshua Davis, who boarded the school bus and stabbed Lehnart while he was still in his seat, was arrested at the scene. The case has inched its way through the court system because of orders for evaluations of Davis’ sanity.

It is not a crime to trespass on a Washington school bus, but legislation unanimously passed in the Senate and House seeks to change that. Gov. Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5891 into law on Tuesday. A spokesperson for Sen. Matt Boehnke, the primary sponsor of the legislation, said the law goes into effect this June.

Richard Lehnart

Also known as the Richard Lehnart Act, it would create a gross misdemeanor trespass charge for any person who “knowingly and maliciously” boards a school bus and either causes a “substantial risk of harm to passengers or the driver and causes a substantial interruption or impairment of services rendered by the school bus.”

The maximum penalty would be up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. The bill, as introduced, sought to make school bus trespassing a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Student riders, district transportation employees or law enforcement officers performing their official duties, and Good Samaritans responding to emergencies would be exempt from the law.

Subject to the availability of appropriated funds, school districts would affix placards on school buses that warn of the consequences for violating the trespassing law and develop educational and public awareness campaigns on the importance of maintaining safety and security on school buses.

Last spring, Pasco School District named its new transportation facility in honor of Lehnart.

Related: Students Remember Washington State Driver Killed on Duty
Related: Convicted Murderer of Tennessee School Bus Driver Joyce Gregory Released
Related: Murdered Bus Driver Poland Nominated for Presidential Medal of Freedom

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