CLEVELAND, Ohio — A woman caught on camera driving on the sidewalk to avoid a stopped school bus is speaking out for the first time about her conviction.
Monday night, local lawmakers took a step closer to making the penalties for doing that much stronger.
Cleveland city councilman Kevin Conwell, who also heads the council’s Safety Committee introduced an emergency ordinance making passing a stopped school bus a more serious offense.
“It’s the safety of our children, the safety for our children is first thing first and we live through our kids,” he told council members.
The move comes after Shena Hardin, 32, was caught on video in September and later convicted of driving around a school bus picking up a disabled child near East 38th and Superior Avenue.
“I was really surprised to find out that it was just a minor misdemeanor, that the most we could do is impose a fine and suspend the license, so I was a little surprised that you couldn’t impose jail time so I am in support of the legislation,” said Judge Pinkey Carr.
Carr sentenced Hardin to stand at the intersection holding a sign that read “Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus.”
She wishes she could have handed down a harsher punishment.
“I don’t know if there’s other people out there. I would like to think that there are not other people out there. I don’t know if this kind of drew attention to it, but I know for me when I see the school bus, when I see the stop sign out, I know to stop. So, I mean, it’s the law,” said Judge Carr.
Driving around a stopped school bus is currently a minor misdemeanor, but the new law, if passed, would make it a first degree misdemeanor.
“If we could look at giving you ranges, for a range up to six months in jail, a range up to a thousand dollar fine, a range from 30 days license suspension to three years would be ranges,” said Conwell.
Shena Hardin would not talk to us on camera, but over the phone she did tell Fox 8:
“I did wrong, there is no justification for what I did, I did wrong. I broke the law, but I’m not a monster.”
She says she was trying to get to work and never intended to hurt anyone.
“It doesn’t excuse it and again, I feel like it’s being minimized,” said Carr.
Councilman Conwell says he will also ask city council members to pass a resolution asking the state legislature to increase penalties state-wide.
For more on this case, click here.