MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - In light of the recent tragedy in Midland City , FOX10 News wanted to take a look at the training bus drivers receive to stop someone from boarding a bus.
The Alabama School Bus Driver handbook clearly lays out unauthorized people are not allowed on board a bus. In Alabama law, there is no language specifically making this a crime, but FOX10 News learned that could all change.
Once a school bus rolls up and the children board, they are no longer under the care of their parents. Instead, the bus drivers have to keep them from harm.
Mobile County Public Schools transportation director Pat Mitchell said, "You never can say never that a situation will or will not happen. But you just try to have your people prepared."
Drivers are taught to verbally direct unauthorized people off the bus.
Mitchell said if a threatening person storms inside of a bus, drivers are advised not to use force.
"We don't encourage our drivers to get in to any type of physical confrontation with anyone," said Mitchell. "So we try to use verbal directions."
There are also phones on board to call 911.
FOX10 News spoke off camera with a Mobile County school bus driver.
The driver said he really doesn't have any way to prevent intruders from coming aboard.
When he's dropping off or picking up children, he said he always has his hand on the door handle while the bus is stopped, just in case he has to slam it shut and drive away from a threat.
But drivers are required to attend an extensive safety course each year, and he hopes in his next course, this issue will be addressed.
Inside the Alabama school bus driver handbook, it said only assigned passengers are allowed aboard.
It also tells drivers to be mentally alert and prepared for any emergency.
Just outside of buses, signs warn trespassers could be arrested, but State Senator Cam Ward said there are no specific laws against it.
Ward said, "Right now, you have a very loosely interpreted trespass law that covers it, and the penalties are so mild that they really can't be enforced."
Therefore, Senator Cam Ward is introducing Senate Bill 15.
It pushes for an Alabama law that would make it a Class B misdemeanor to trespass onto a school bus. The law would be punishable to up to a year in jail and fines.
The senator is confident it can be passed into law.
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