ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Rowan-Salisbury school leaders are trying to stop an issue that’s happened on school buses several times in the past few months — parents getting aboard the vehicle.

RSS Communications Director Michelle Shue confirmed three instances in the past five months where a parent has walked onto their child’s school bus and either confronted, threatened, or assaulted the bus driver.

The latest incident happened around 3 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023. Deputies say Justin Michael Goodman, 29, entered a bus and began cursing at the children before being told to leave. Authorities said he ‘refused to comply’ and cursed at the driver, telling her to ‘shut up.’

Officials said at some point, Goodman got his kid and got off the bus, but a short time later, while the bus was stopped at the intersection of Eller Road and Country Place Drive, he approached the vehicle in a Jeep Cherokee and passed the bus ‘while shaking his fist and yelling.’

Authorities advised Goodman was not armed but was arrested, placed into the Rowan County Detention Center with a $25,000 secured bond, and charged with the following:

  • Disorderly conduct
  • Trespassing on a school bus

According to the sheriff’s office, charges for passing the stopped bus are pending.

Parents of children on the bus told Queen City News it happened after the suspect’s child got into an altercation with another student on the vehicle.

“The children were crying. They were crying so hard, they couldn’t breathe,” said Natalie Oakley, whose child rides that bus. “I don’t understand why somebody would get on a school bus with a bunch of children and terrify them like that. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.”

The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office confirmed they have charged Justin Goodman with disorderly conduct and trespassing on a school bus.

Shue says the school district has a policy that prevents any parent from entering a school bus without expressed permission from the bus driver or in cases where the parent is permitted to chaperone a field trip. Even then, the parent must pass a screening.

“We have certain protocols for our buildings, and what the community really needs to understand is that those school buses are an extension of those campuses,” said Shue. “In that moment, when that driver has up to 30 kids on the bus, or even if there’s just five kids left on the route, that driver can’t be interacting with a parent during that time.”

In April, Estella Tucker was charged with climbing aboard her child’s bus and assaulting the driver. It came after the driver allegedly missed the child’s stop and would not let her off the bus due to a district policy that states children can only be let off at their assigned stops.

Last week, Tucker pleaded guilty to trespassing on a school bus and simple assault and was given 18 months supervised probation, a 45-day suspended sentence, and a $50 fine plus court costs. Her charges for communicating threats and disorderly conduct were dismissed.

“If you trust your children to ride the school bus to school and home every day, then there’s no need for you to get your behind on that bus,” said Oakley.

Parents with concerns about the bus are asked to contact their child’s school or the district office directly.