Local school bus drivers react to threatening emails

Local school districts are urging drivers to take extra precautions after emails threatening to target school buses filled with children were sent to state lawmakers.

Ray Miller, a school bus driver in Chittenango, says children's safety is the top priority and he and his fellow drivers take the threats to attack a school bus very seriously.

"In addition to our safety checks that we do everyday. We look for things that aren't right. Things that are out of place," he says.

Once buses leave the garage, Miller says drivers rely on one another for safety and are in constant communication.

"You'd be surprised at how many people from other buses are around looking for something that is out of place as well. So we all do look out for each other," he says.

Contribution by CNY Central reporter Brandon Roth.

Original story from Tuesday:

Local school districts are on alert after threatening emails were sent to state lawmakers, targeting reporters, politicians and the wealthy. The man, who identifies himself only as "John Doe" claims to be a state worker and also threatens to target a bus filled with children.

The threatening email states "If we attack a school bus full of kids, it may have no effect on the hardened criminals who rule Albany, but it will put the public in an uproar. Our goal is to create anarchy."

Tuesday morning, CNY Central obtained a copy of a memo issued to parents by East Syracuse Minoa Superintendent Dr. Donna DeSiato. The note reads in part, "We want to assure you that district staff has been directed to take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our students and staff. Our School Information Resource Officers have been notified and are taking necessary precautionary measures."

Dr. Desiato's letter to parents comes on the New York State Education Department issued a memo of its own. We obtained a copy of that as well. It says in part, "The email references threats of violence in state office buildings, against the state legislature and a specific reference to school buses."

State education officials recommend those involved in school transportation remain aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activity. They suggest all drivers and technicians do inspections before and after each trip with an "added sense of caution and urgency."

State education leaders are asking school bus drivers to be watchful for any unknown people as well as suspicious or unusual behavior along their routes or at bus stops. They are also advised to be careful of anyone who approaches their bus. They also want drivers to be "particularly strict about unknown or unauthorized individuals attempting to board the school bus."

Other local districts are also advising parents of the situation.

In the North Syracuse district, Superintendent Jerry Melvin sent out of a letter to parents. "We are taking the necessary precautions to notify all personnel of this warning, including our transportation and security staff," it states.

Liverpool Superintendent Richard Johns says his district is also taking necessary precautions.

"There are nuts out there, and they can steal our time and attention, and this one does," he says. "There's probably no substance under it, but you have to deal with it as if there may be substance to it."

School bus drivers who see any unusual or suspicious behavior should report it to the state's toll free hotline at 1-866-SAFENYS or 1-866-723-3697.

New York State Police, the State Office of Counter Terrorism and the Federal Bureau of Investigation continue to investigate the threatening emails.

Click here to download and read a copy of an email sent to New York Assemblyman Brian Kolb.

Read our previous coverage of this story by clicking here.

Does this make you nervous to bring your kids to the bus stop tomorrow? Will you take any additional precautions or drive your children to school instead? Do you think schools need to do have resource officers out at bus stops in light of this? Leave your thoughts below.

CNY Central reporter Jessica Cain contributed to this story.