Rapp students OK after potentially dangerous bus route incident

Proper security protocol was followed to a T by a Rappahannock County Public Schools bus driver on Monday afternoon when students riding home from school suddenly found themselves in the middle of a serious domestic dispute.

“On September 11, at approximately 4:30 p.m., the school division notified the sheriff’s office that a parent boarded Bus 15 swiftly when her child was exiting the bus at a regularly scheduled stop,” read a joint statement from Rappahannock County Sheriff Connie Compton and Rappahannock Schools Administrator Shannon Grimsley.

The woman reported that her significant other, who was in a parked car, intended to harm her and may have been armed. The bus driver immediately closed the door, issued a call for the sheriff’s department, and drove away.

“The driver did not stop the bus until instructed to do so by law enforcement who arrived on the scene within two minutes of the call. At no time was the bus followed or a weapon brandished at the scene and the superintendent and sheriff’s office were in constant communication. Parents of students still on board were notified that the bus was delayed and would be released shortly.”

The release stated that one suspect was apprehended and charged with an unspecified crime by the sheriff’s office. A stay away order against the suspect to prohibit [his] appearing on any school property, including bus stops, was also being issued by the sheriff’s office at the request of the superintendent. Additionally, Bus 15 will no longer stop at the location of the incident.

The driver of Bus 15 is Jessica Wines, according to the school system’s website, and her route includes, among other stops, Huntly, Flint Hill, Fodderstack Road, and Mt. Salem Avenue in Washington.

Grimsley, who has been in her post for only two-and-a-half months, first notified parents of the incident on Monday evening.

The schools superintendent commended the sheriff’s office for its quick response and management of the situation that resulted in all students returning safely home, as well as the apprehension of the suspect.

Both the school system and the sheriff’s office are already reviewing and learning from the incident.

“Today, administration in partnership with the sheriff’s office, reviewed bus safety procedures, provided additional training for bus drivers, and set up a new radio communication protocol to increase response time,” the joint release stated.

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John McCaslin is the editor of the Rappahannock News. Email him at editor@rappnews.com.