ALABAMA (WAFF) - A new law is in effect this academic year concerning school buses. The Charles "Chuck" Poland, Jr Act is named after the south Alabama school bus driver who was fatally shot in January by a man who took a student hostage. Governor Robert Bentley signed the bill into law in May.
Starting Monday, stickers will be seen on the side of all school buses in Alabama notifying parents and students that the law is now in place. The law makes it a Class A misdemeanor to trespass on a school bus, and anyone who breaks this law could be sentenced to up to a year in jail.
The Alabama Department of Education said they've seen a drastic increase in unauthorized entries onto school buses in the past couple of years. Dan Evans, Director of Operations and Auxiliary Services in the Madison County school system, said they've always trained their drivers to react to people who trespass onto buses, but this new law will give police something to charge people with.
"We didn't have any teeth in the law to keep them off, and now we have the law that says you can't enter a school bus without permission," Evans said, "so it's really going to provide another level of protection for our students and employees.
Evans said while most people who get on buses are usually harmless parents, they just don't want to take any chances. School officials are asking all parents who need to talk with the bus driver to go to the side window.