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School Bus Hijacking Raises Bus Safety Concerns

The Pulaski County Special School District talk about the types of training its bus drivers undergo.
JACKSONVILLE, AR- A school bus hijacking in Jacksonville is raising bus safety concerns and what security measures the Pulaski County Special School District (PCSSD) has in place.

The bus that was hijacked was on its way to Pinewood Elementary School Thursday morning when police say 22-year-old Nicholas John Miller got on a school bus and with his knife, took control of the wheel. PCSSD officials say the bus driver followed protocol and are proud of her efforts to bring the 11 students on board to safety.

Every year, PCSSD bus drivers undergo different kinds of training a year.

"Leadership has ideas as to what kind of training we want to do, but we also ask the driver what's something that you think would be valuable to you," said Derek Scott, PCSSD Spokesman.

What bus drivers thought were valuable to them this year was training on an event a person were to hijack their bus. The school bus driver involved had just received training this past February on an incident just like this. PCSSD officials say they couldn't be happier with the way she handled the situation.

"She performed exactly like we expected her to perform. There's not anything that she did that I would've done differently. We're very proud of her," said Scott.

She and other bus drivers watched a 20 minute hijack training video, then walked through certain scenarios on the bus. They're trained to stay calm, engage the perpetrator in conversation, keep focus away from the students, and keep the person at a safe distance.

Scott says this training is not a state mandate, but drivers wanted to undergo training in case an event like it did happen on their bus.

"We're going to do the mandatory training, the things that are the most probable, but we're also going to look at those things that we need to train on that we don't want to happen, but if it does we need to train," said Scott.

Students get a different training of their own. They do emergency exiting drills. PCSSD operates about 340 buses. All are equipped with 4 cameras, gps tracking capabilities and digital radios.
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