Atlanta parents are outraged after their teenage daughters were stopped on the way to school, accused of being truant, and forced into a van. It happened after their school bus never picked them up for class.
Carrie and Colleen Miller told 11Alive's Duffie Dixon when the substitute bus driver failed to show up to their stop the morning of May 4, they and a friend decided to just walk the two-and-a-half miles to Grady High School.
When they were about 50 yards from the front door of the school, a van pulled up and the men inside told them to get in.
"We were just walking and we see a parked MARTA van, and then a MARTA police stops and two men come out. They said, 'Can you get in the van?' And we were like 'Why?' But they wouldn’t tell us," Colleen said.
"They were forcing us to get in to the van, it was more like, 'Get into the van!' And we were so confused," her twin sister Carrie said.
The girls recorded some of the back and forth on their cell phones. On the short clip, you can hear a man saying, "Can't you just get into the van?"
"I was very upset because I knew my girls were frightened," their father Mark Miller said. Miller works for 11Alive. "They know not to get into a strange van even if it’s a MARTA van. How do we know they’re truly MARTA police? Especially when they’re right at school, and they didn’t need to get into a van anyway."
Atlanta Public Schools sent 11Alive News a statement:
Atlanta Public Schools works collaboratively with the Atlanta Police Department and MARTA Police Department year-round to conduct truancy sweeps within our school zone. The APS Truancy Office protocol states that ‘APD Truancy Officers and MARTA Police Officers are to transport students to the APS Truancy Center or their APS school from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in accordance with the city ordinance.'
The Atlanta City Ordinance states that students are supposed to be in school during school hours, unless they have a valid excuse. The MARTA police officers clearly identified themselves to the students before transporting them in a MARTA Police truancy vehicle back to school. The school bus driver, who was a substitute driver, missed their bus stop. The students who returned to school were not considered “truant” since they were on their way to school. They were instead classified as “late to school.”
It's a policy few seem to know about.
"We were so confused," Carrie said. "Why are there two men not explaining? Why is it MARTA? We kept questioning them and they would never give us full answers. They were very vague and I was very scared that something bad would happen because you hear those stories every day."
Despite the truancy protocol, there’s a new rule in the Miller home. If you miss the bus, go back in the house and call an adult for a ride to school.