Olinda Osborn, a bus driver with Springfield Public Schools, is applauded for her heroism during an April 3 attack. (Screenshot by Joe Hadsall)

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Springfield Public Schools honored a bus driver who helped protect students from an attacker.

Olinda Osborn is the driver who helped 13 Pershing Middle School students escape when her bus was broken into and boarded by a registered sex offender on April 3. Osborn was recognized for heroism April 23, during a meeting of the Springfield Board of Education. 

The presentation coincided with National School Bus Driver Appreciation Day, said Stephen Hall, chief communications officer for the school district. Hall noted that more than 100 buses carry about 9,000 students every school day in Springfield. 

“On April 3, when students on one of those buses was threatened, driver Olinda Osborn took action to protect them,” Hall said. “She followed her instincts and put into practice the valuable training she received, which allowed students to safely evacuate the bus and seek shelter nearby.”

Springfield Public Schools Chief Communications Officer Stephen Hall congratulates bus driver Olinda Osborn Tuesday during a Springfield Board of Education meeting. (Screen shot taken by Joe Hadsall)

Every board member got up from the dais to thank Osborn. She was also commended at the end of the meeting by Board President Danielle Kincaid.

“I’m so glad we were able to recognize the bus driver, who was incredibly brave,” Kincaid said during the meeting’s portion for board comments. “I don’t know about you, but I was shocked to see her stature, that she was a smaller individual, but still able to take that situation under control and protect the students.”

Criminal charges follow bus attack

William Trenton Moore, 25, of Springfield, has been charged with vehicle hijacking, assault with intent to hijack a bus and being a registered sex offender within 500 feet of a school bus. Moore was convicted in 2021 on charges of kidnapping and sexual misconduct from an event in 2019.

According to a probable cause statement filed by the Springfield Police Department, Moore approached the bus while Osborn was waiting for a student, pried open the doors and stole the keys. Springfield police arrested Moore at his home later that day. 

Court records show that a mental examination has been ordered for Moore. A hearing to discuss that examination and Moore's mental fitness to stand trial has been scheduled for May 7. 

Osborn reported to work on the day after the attack, Hall said.

“Because of her dedication and commitment to her work, and because she wanted to assure her students that she was OK, and that they would be OK, as well,” Hall said. “I think that’s a beautiful example of who she is as a person and as a professional driver.” 

Others involved also thanked

Hall said that many others were involved behind the scenes in response to the school bus attack, and named them during the meeting. They include: 

• Transportation department employees Keith Adams, Jayme Balbaneda, Kim Brown, Sherri Dobbs, Jim Evans, Ronnie Floyd, Jerry Inman, Jessica Yesh-Sanchez, Adam VanBeachler, Kim Vaughn and Eric Williams.

• Pershing School employees Courtney Bendure, Joe Cooper, Lauren Parrish, Amy Rader, Officer Mark Sears, Brooke Shivers, Tommy Wells and Renee Wise.

• Field Elementary’s Janell Bagwell and Amy Langevin.

• Counselors Jinny Datema, Alison Roffers and Haley Swatzell.

• The school police department’s Officer Rachel Boxberger, Officer Brian Cathey, Officer Kerri Dutcher, Officer Mike Eatherly, Chief Jim Farrell, Officer Shelley Martin and Lieutenant Rodney Williamson.

• Beth Engelhart and Gary Tew in Springfield Public Schools' administration office.

Kincaid also thanked neighboring residents of Springfield for sheltering students, the 13 students aboard the bus for their bravery, and Greene County prosecutors for their work. She also expressed gratitude for those whose heroism goes hidden.

“There are a lot of private heroes in our classrooms every single day that we don’t get to celebrate,” Kincaid said. “Know that the board also sees those private heroes who are protecting our students every single day.”

Joe Hadsall

Joe Hadsall is the education reporter for the Hauxeda. Hadsall has more than two decades of experience reporting in the Ozarks with the Joplin Globe, Christian County Headliner News and 417 Magazine. Contact him at (417) 837-3671 or jhadsall@hauxeda.com. More by Joe Hadsall