A Perry County, Pennsylvania mother has been charged with a third degree misdemeanor of “unlawful entry into a school bus” when she thought her son was in danger.
According to an article at PennLive.com, Tara Keener saw her 5 year old slumped over on the school bus with kids standing around him screaming for help. Keener, a nurse, rushed onto the bus to save her son Xander who, as it turns out, was only sleeping.
Keener’s boarding the bus violated the law.
The story becomes a case of she said – she said with the bus driver who is a certified nursing assistant. It is as if the mother and the bus driver not only have different recollections of what happened, but one wonders if they were on the same planet the day in question.
The bus company remembers the story a little differently, and reported the incident — as they are required by law — to the state police because the driver asked Keener to leave the bus and she refused.
They say no one was screaming ‘help,’ that Xander was sleeping, like he had before and the driver wasn’t given enough time to handle the situation herself.
We have no idea how much time the bus driver needed, but clearly she had enough time to be more concerned about Keener on the bus than she did with the child’s health.
“[The other children on the bus] moved away and looked at me like they were scared and said they couldn’t wake him,” [Keener] testified. “I had to physically shake him vigorously to wake him.”
Someone isn’t telling the truth. If Keener had enough time to board the bus, rush to her son while a sea of kids parted, and then had to shake her son awake, more than a “few seconds” had passed.
No matter what, this seems like a case where the mother is told “lady, don’t do that again,” and to the bus driver, “be more aware and prioritize.” Both parties learn something and life would go on.
Of course, we would not be reporting on this if it were not for the misdemeanor. The policeman who originally handled the situation told Keener nothing would come of the incident. Five months later, Keener received notification that she was being charged with the third degree misdemeanor where she faces up to a year in jail and a $2500 fine.
But it gets better. In this story we get a second “he said – she said” component. The district attorney that is prosecuting the case said that he charged Keener after speaking with the assistant to the owner of the bus company.
Perry County District Attorney Charles F. Chenot III — who initially said this was one of those situations that could go either way — said he changed his mind after a conversation with Pamala Schaeffer, the assistant to Dennis Dum. Dum’s Bus Service is contracted by West Perry Schools to transport all district children to school each day.
“The bus company’s main point is, we can’t let one person do this because pretty soon you’ll have all kinds of parents on there,” Chenot said. “Most parents aren’t a problem, but what do you do when a … sex offender wants to get on the bus and get his kids off? We need to have that protection in place.”
(NOTE: Chenot’s comparison of a mother boarding a school bus to save her child to a sex offender is ridiculous and offensive.)
Unfortunately, Schaeffer said she did not ask Chenot to press charges. She says that she merely called Chenot to ask if there were other extenuating circumstances like this where a parent could board a school bus. Schaeffer wanted to advise her drivers as to what those circumstances may be.
“I was completely dumfounded, because we thought it was resolved,” she said. “I wasn’t looking to convince him to change his mind,” she said. “I was just asking for my own personal education to know from Mr. Chenot, what determines good cause.”
Chenot stands firm in his belief that bus company was the driving force.
“It was the result of the conversation with the bus company that we ended up moving forward with the charges,” he said.
So basically we have a mother who says she was trying to offer medical assistance to her 5 year old and the bus driver disputing that. The mother disputes the bus driver’s claims as well. At the same time, the not so speedy wheel of justice has the district attorney and the bus company telling two different stories as to why the woman is being prosecuted.
All of this will go in front of a jury.
That’s right, Keener is getting a jury trial on the charges.
We guarantee that the 12 people seated in the jury box will all come to the same conclusion and ask “are you friggin’ kidding me? We are here for this?”
Ah yes, the American justice system at its finest.