Yellow school buses have been identified as obvious targets for terrorism, a fact that has led to training programs for just such an occurrence. But that training is not without controversy.
Last fall, SWAT teams outside of Kansas City, Missouri, presented a demonstration of the assorted techniques used to breach and storm school buses to bring an end to crises that may arise in student transportation. These active shooter drills netted strong reactions.
Some who observed the demonstration said that safety is not taken seriously enough in their districts or that they had no idea what tactics would be used on buses in the event of a terrorist attack. Many pointed out that bright yellow school buses are easy targets, making training for drivers and safety staff of utmost importance.
The demonstrations presented various rapid-response actions to engage potential high-risk threats that could overtake a school bus. The counterattacks involved using offensive maneuvers, tactical vehicles, high-powered weaponry, flashbangs and bulletproof gear, with everything synchronized to eradicate the threat swiftly and securely.
The demonstrations led many educators to admit they would be looking into additional safety and security measures, as well as revising current plans, to protect bus-riding students. The need to collaborate closely with local law enforcement also was recognized.
Sandy Dillman, director of transportation for Apple Valley Unified School District in California, told School Transportation News she would like to incorporate similar training for drivers to fully grasp the seriousness of the issue but noted that the cost of the training could derail the idea.
Others responded that they feared incorporating these tactics into their protocols could receive some pushback from administration, be viewed as too aggressive by the public, or scare off existing and would-be bus drivers who might perceive the job as too dangerous.