tl;dr - Saga in which OP became highly upset for reasons that seem foolish now, vented, had a question or two, engaged in some thought-provoking discussion, eventually began to see some humor in the situation, and learned how to make crude renderings of a school bus, not necessarily to scale.
OP is somewhat embarrassed and regrets the anger shown at times and strives to do better in future. All posts by the OP will remain for posterity, education, and general entertainment purposes. Anyone entering this thread for the first time is strongly advised to prepare a healthy snack and do a bathroom run, not necessarily in that order.
It’s been a stressful few days.
We haven’t had a whole lot of snowfall this season, until recently. Thanks to the snowfall we’ve been having every few days over the last week, it’s become obvious that our driveway has been used for more than just our cars.
I went back and forth between phone calls to the school district, my insurance agent, the police, and speaking with a couple of parents over a few days.
The school district’s position is that they know nothing about our driveway being used as a school bus stop for the 7 AM pickup. They didn’t authorize it and didn’t believe it was happening.
The parents’ position is that their kids were at the usual pickup corner on the first day of school in late August. The bus driver drove right past them and stopped in front of our driveway and forced the kids to board the bus from our driveway. When questioned, he said (paraphrasing), “Because I said so, that’s the way it is, deal with it!” There is also an 8 AM pickup that remained at the usual corner. They didn’t know why their pickup location had changed, but not the later one. They admitted that the kids have been using our driveway since last August and they didn’t really like it either. They understood they were on private property. Why none of the parents called the school to report this, I have no idea. Why they didn’t come to me and tell me about it, I have no idea. They’ve gone through 2 more bus drivers and not one of them questioned why they were in my driveway instead of on the corner.
My position is that the school district doesn’t have the right to use our driveway as a bus stop without our permission. They caused people to trespass regularly (every school day) since August. I thought there might be potential liability issues involved, if someone were to get hurt. And believe me, the pattern of the footprints and what I’ve seen since last Thursday when I started recording via our admittedly old and crappy surveillance camera proves that some of the kids are doing things that could get them hurt while they’re in our driveway.
I told the school district that they were to cease using our driveway immediately and that I was going to record the 7 AM pickup on Thursday. Not surprisingly, on Thursday and Friday, the bus stopped at the corner, so I guess I made my point clear enough.
The district did call parents on Wednesday afternoon to tell them not to use our driveway anymore. They even accused the parents of deciding on their own to use our driveway. Some appear not to have gotten the message, or are disregarding it, which led to my phone call to the police.
The police dispatcher said that if kids continue to use our driveway, to give them a call and they’ll send an officer out to talk to them. They said it was legal for me to do it myself, but advised me to let them handle it. She asked me if they were on the apron. (I’m not sure why it matters if they’re on the apron or somewhere else on the driveway.) They don’t stay in one place anyway, which I did say.
When I told my husband about this - and he thinks I’m worrying too much about it - he told me that he shoveled 4 inches of snow from the driveway last week before work. The kids didn’t get out of the cars while he was shoveling. It meant that he was still home to see the school bus pull up in front of our driveway and board the kids from our driveway. In fact, he was ready to leave and couldn’t because of it. But, he didn’t mention it at the time. He thought the bus driver was trying to make it easier for the kids since he’d just finished clearing the driveway and the corner had 4 inches of snow. He didn’t know it was happening every day.
I don’t believe the saga is quite over yet, but hopefully it will be soon. What complicates matters is that our school district allows open enrollment and, in recent years, they’ve assigned these kids from outside the neighborhood to be picked up at our corners. Before, just the kids who lived on our street were picked up at our corner. My neighbor said that the parents just drop their kids off and take off. I saw that myself on the Friday recording, along with other reckless behaviors by these kids who don’t live around here. The other parents don’t know who they are or where they live.
Google has been my friend since yesterday, researching ordinances at the state and local level.
In my state, property owners aren’t liable for injuries to trespassers unless they do something to cause the injuries or create an artificial hazard that would cause an injury. That’s good news for us.
The school district violated state and local laws by stopping the school bus in front of our driveway. They effectively told people to trespass on our private property, which is just mind-boggling to me.
I’ve attached some pics of the area. As you can see, our driveway is 25 feet to the West of the NW corner, which is where the kids were standing on the first day of school. For years now, the school district has used either the NW or NE corners. The 8 AM pickup is using the NE corner this year. It doesn’t make sense for anyone to decide it’s better to make the kids walk 25 feet further to catch the bus all of a sudden.
But I am confused about something. (As if this whole thing hasn’t been confusing enough.)
Local ordinances require us to keep the sidewalks clear of snow and ice within a reasonable amount of time after a snowfall. However, we’re not required to keep our driveway clear of snow and ice, which would appear to support the fact that our driveway is private property and not public property.
However, technically, I think the driveway is the section that runs from the sidewalk to the house. The part that runs from the sidewalk to the street is the driveway approach or apron. When the police dispatcher asked if they were on the apron, I’m wondering if she was thinking that part was public access and not private property. I’m not really sure about that and all my Googling this weekend just generally talks about utility easements from the sidewalk to the street. Does anyone know if the approach/apron is considered public access?