No trespassing: Mom wants law changed after kids threatened on school bus

Posted at 8:00 PM, Oct 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-04 00:30:53-04

A Shelby County mother wants to change state law to make no trespassing signs mandatory on school buses.

The mother, who asked not to be identified, says she was unable to pursue criminal charges against a man who boarded a Shelby Eastern school bus and threatened her children because the bus did not have a no-trespass sign posted. Now, she wants to see the signs on all Indiana school buses.

According to the mother, her children were riding the school bus on August 14 when the driver stopped to pick up more students. She says, "One of the parents got on the bus and proceeded to threaten my children about something they never even did. He threatened to come after them at their school."

She says she was immediately contacted by school administrators to address the situation, and that she was pleased with their response.

"They did a very good job," she said.

After receiving the phone call, the mother went to the Shelby County courthouse hoping to get a restraining order due to the man's threats.

"I didn't know if the school could prevent him from coming on school grounds," she said. "I didn't know if anything could protect my children at the bus stops. I thought that was the correct way to go."

The restraining order was denied, so the mother went to the Shelby County Prosecutor's Office to see if any laws involving trespassing were violated.

Prosecutor Brad Landwerlen found that based on the facts his hands were tied.

"It was almost a trespass," Landwerlen said. "If he had ever been denied entry either verbally or in writing then it would have been trespass."

The bus driver, who was fired, failed to verbally tell the parent not to board the school bus. There also was no"no trespassing" sign posted on the bus; those signs are optional for school districts.

"It shouldn't be optional," the mother said. "I want to see if we can make a change. It should be mandatory statewide. I think it (the law) needs to be changed since if it (the "no trespassing" sign) was there he would have been charged."

School superintendent Dr. Robert Evans declined an on-camera interview, but sent an e-mailed response. It reads in part, "Shelby Eastern holds student safety to be a top priority. We continue to adjust and enhance our security procedures to provide safe environments for our students."

The prosecutor has a direct message to parents statewide. "My message to parents, of course, is don't be stupid. If you're going to step on a bus causing issues it could result in charges," Landwerlen said.

The parent who boarded the bus has been warned not to ever get on a bus or he would be facing a Level 6 Felony. That charge could lead to between 6 months and 2.5 half years in prison and a possible fine of $10,000.

More on school bus trespassing:
The Indiana Department of Education answered additional questions from RTV6 about this situation. Read their responses below.
Q. Are school buses required to have posted a No Trespassing sign on the vehicles or is that optional?
A. 575 IAC 1-9-20 Criminal trespass decal: Sec. 20. A decal warning about criminal trespass on a school bus may be allowed on the face of a step riser. The message must be one (1) line not to exceed the width of the riser in block style letters not less than two (2) inches and not more than four (4) inches in height and of a color that contrasts with its background.
Q. Are school bus drivers trained on what to tell "intruders" who may board a bus?
A. All new bus drivers are trained on this issue during the initial pre-service training.


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