EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — It’s one of the most tense situations imaginable: hostages on a school bus.
In recent incidents in the United States, people have forced their way onto buses with students aboard.
One morning last spring, a bus full of middle and high school students in Wyoming was headed to school when a man forced his way onto the bus and refused to leave, claiming an unnamed person was trying to shoot him. According to news reports, he was under the influence of drugs, and police were able to resolve the incident without anyone being harmed.
EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Teacher assignments and class schedules have all been mailed, and students will get on the bus to start the new school year Thursday, Sept. 7.
On Aug. 22, a man in South Carolina jumped in front of an elementary school bus in an attempt to board it. The bus driver hit the brakes to avoid hitting the man, according to news reports, but the suspect grabbed hold of the mirror near the door in an attempt to gain entry to the bus filled with students. He was later identified and arrested by police.
The Egg Harbor Township School District took steps Thursday to prepare to avoid a similar situation.
The district, the Atlantic County SWAT team and the Police Department held a simulated crisis to prepare the district’s administration and bus drivers for a worst-case scenario.
EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — The Egg Harbor Township elementary schools will be implementing a new English language arts curriculum this fall called SuperKids K-2.
“Over the last several years, critical events, both nationally and globally, demonstrate the need for law-enforcement agencies and school administration to prepare for responses to violent encounters within a school setting,” said Warren Fipp, district director of transportation.
The demonstration was part of the district’s annual Transportation Department training. It included 35 bus drivers, 28 administrators and 116 observers. The drivers, administrators and school board members were loaded onto buses and witnessed a man run onto the bus when the door was open during a stop.
Police and SWAT officers responded, used distractive techniques and boarded the bus with weapons drawn to secure the scene and take the man into custody.
Fipp said the demonstration was just the first in a series of steps being taken for school security.
“Throughout the year, additional exercises and training is planned for staff and faculty at each EHT school, including active-shooter drills,” he said.
Superintendent Kim Gruccio said this type of training was long overdue.
EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Freshmen in the Class of 2021 were welcomed to Egg Harbor Township High School, their new home for the next four years.
“As long as I’ve been here, 17 years, we have never done anything like this. To be able to have a partnership with Egg Harbor Township Police Department and to begin to make sure that our drivers and students are safe and that we have a plan in place, God forbid, something like this happens, is step one in the right direction,” said Gruccio, who will do ride-alongs on buses during the first few days of the school year.
Police Capt. Dave Druding, the department’s operations commander, said the demonstration presented an opportunity for the Police Department, too.
“Today’s joint training exercise with the Police Department and the schools represented the seriousness of the school administration toward security in the interest of all students and faculty,” Druding said. “We hope to continue this partnership going forward.”