HANOVER TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A Luzerne County school district is ramping up its school bus security and safety measures. This was after a stranger was able to board a bus undetected.
A student on that bus realized the unknown woman did not belong on the bus.
Parents say they could not believe what happened and are just relieved that no one, namely students, were harmed as a result of this incident.
Hanover Area School District Officials say they are taking steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again not only in Hanover but other school districts across the region.
Hanover Area School District Officials say a woman wearing a surgical mask was able to board a bus transporting students to the high school on the morning of January 3.
“At the time they appeared to be a new student gave all the right answers to our bus driver who did do screenings verbal screening and boarded our bus. It came, it turned out it was an unauthorized passenger who turned out not to be a good person riding with our students,” said Nathan Barrett, the Superintendent of Hanover Area School District.
Barrett says a student became suspicious of the stranger.
“It was the keen sense if a student on that bus that realized this person does not belong here had texted their parents,” Barrett added.
School District Officials and the Hanover Township Police were called.
The woman, later identified as 29-year-old Charisma Whaley was arrested when she got off the bus and tried to enter the high school.
Police say she is homeless and is wanted in New York on burglary charges.
Now, the district has taken steps to prevent similar incidents.
“So what we did was something as simple as a visual identification that students need to board our bus which is in process right now. It can be a photo I.D. being processed right now by the district,” said Barrett
As well as specialized training sessions.
“We had a situational awareness training first of its kind for our bus drivers and our school crossing guards..so they’re our first line of defense,” Barrett added.
Mason Wooldridge heads up the district’s safety and security. He says all districts can learn from this incident.
“Since it happened everybody has to look at their own district. It’s important because if it happens in another district we have to look at it. If it happens in our district somebody else has to look at it,” Wooldridge said.
Parents say they just want every possible safety measure to be taken to keep schools safe, including student I.D.
“I believe it’s a good idea to have check school Identification because we live in a crazy world anymore and you never know and that situation proved it right there,” said Tiffany Staskiel of Wilkes-Barre.
Hanover Area School District Officials have been meeting with officials from other area school districts and plan to hold joint meetings on security issues moving forward.