New Alabama law aims to protect bus drivers and students

(WTVM) - No student, teacher or bus driver should ever have to endure what happened in Dale County earlier this year.

Bus driver Charles Poland was shot and killed trying to protect his passengers after a gunman boarded his bus and kidnapped one child.

Thankfully the child was returned unharmed, but now in Poland's honor, anyone who tries to disrupt a school bus could face time behind bars.

"No one should have any business on a bus except the school staff, the bus driver and the students and this act goes toward ensuring that if anyone tries to violate that circumstance their going to face penalties of the law," explains Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones.

According to the Charles Poland Act, anyone who trespasses on a school bus, even parents, could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.

Officials from Opelika City Schools say this law is necessary to help them better do their job, protect children.

"We always discourage parents from getting on the buses. Now that we have a law to back us up on that, it's very important because we are all about the safety of the kids. Once they get on the bus, we are to take care of them," says Jeff Foster, Director of Transportation for Opelika City Schools.

Luckily, Lee County has never had to deal with a serious situation like the one in Dale County, but officials say they are ready if that day ever comes.

"We are training our staff and our deputies in all the aspects of the law as we do with anything that comes out and effects public safety," says Jones

Opelika City Schools are equipped for the first day of classes with signs on their buses warning anyone who tries to board of the consequences.

"We want to get the word out. We take this very seriously," says Foster, "This law gives us an extra tool to work with, but we're there to protect the children."

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