BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - School may be out for summer, but safety remains a priority.
School bus safety advocate, and force behind Nathan's Law, Lori McJohnson wants to make sure that students are protected from a potential accident when they step off the bus in the fall.
"We were just talking about enforcement for individuals who illegally pass and different processes that can be taken and different things to look for," said McJohnson.
On Tuesday afternoon, Biloxi Schools and the Biloxi Police Department met with McJohnson to discuss the importance of bus safety; her life mission since the passing of her 5-year-old son Nathan in 2009.
"Nathan was getting off of his stopped school bus with two of my other children and as they were crossing, Nathan was struck by someone in passing. They came from behind the bus," said McJohnson, who is determined to raise awareness of the law. "I don't want any other parent to have to go through what I had to go through."
Authored by Sen. Chris McDaniel, Nathan's Law strengthened former Mississippi laws and created harsher penalties for people who illegally pass a stopped school bus.
Drivers must stay 10 feet away from school buses, and cannot pass a bus with flashing lights and a stop sign. Penalties include a $350 to $750 fine, a revoked driver's license and jail time.
Biloxi Public School's transportation department educates its drivers on bus safety, but also wants parents to do the same with their children.
"Sit down, let your child know, and listen to the driver. Do not step off that bus unless the driver allows you to. Do not cross the street without being notified by the driver," said Biloxi Public Schools Transportation Director Sam Bailey.
Biloxi Police Chief John Miller says his department will implement training for police based on bus safety, and work on spreading awareness to the public.
If residents witness a driver passing a stopped school bus, they can report the tag number and vehicle description to police.