Woman pleads no contest in West York school bus attack

The woman accused of assaulting a school bus driver while West York students were on board last spring pleaded no contest to some of her charges Tuesday, May 29.

Jackelyn Sanchez, 31, of the 1000 block of West Poplar Street, entered an open plea of no contest to disorderly conduct, engaging in fighting, resisting arrest, criminal mischief, recklessly endangering another person and unauthorized school bus entry.

Jackelyn Sanchez

Background: Sanchez broke down in tears after deputy prosecutor Jonathan Blake described the incident for presiding Common Pleas Judge Harry Ness.

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A school bus picking up students bound for West York Area School District's three elementary schools was stopped at the intersection of West Poplar and Dewey streets about 8:25 a.m. on May 19, 2017, when Sanchez boarded, according to charging documents.

"She began violently and physically attacking the driver, as well as destroying property on the bus," West York Police Chief Matt Millsaps said at the time. "She was just violently wailing on and grabbing at the bus driver. And whatever was in her proximity, she was damaging."

Students on the bus, who ranged from kindergartners to fifth-graders, managed to open the bus' emergency exit and flee to safety, Millsaps said.

Some parents were on scene and called 911 immediately after the attack began, according to Millsaps, who said officers arrived moments later.

Charging documents state that Sanchez got on the bus and wouldn't leave and ripped out the cord of the two-way radio when bus driver Loretta Stump tried to call for help.

Sanchez then punched Stump in the face and head and also choked her, police allege.

She tried to move Stump from the driver's seat "to gain control of the bus," at one point twisting and breaking a gear shifter, documents state.

As children fled the bus, one was knocked down by Sanchez while Sanchez was assaulting Stump, according to police, who said no children were hurt.

Children were screaming and crying as Officer Eric Rodgers arrived. One parent yelled out, "that's her" and pointed at Sanchez, who was running away, documents state.

Rodgers gave chase when she refused to stop, police said. He struggled with Sanchez as she resisted arrest, and both ended up on the ground, where Rodgers suffered an injury to his knee and aggravated an earlier injury to his wrist, charging documents allege.

Once in custody, Sanchez gave no information about herself, Millsaps said. She did make statements suggesting she was under the influence of a controlled substance and was singing a song from a children's Disney movie, Millsaps said.

Then-West York Superintendent Emilie Lonardi said at the time that all but about 20 of the students went home with their parents, and some ended up going to school later.

Lonardi said there was discussion with the students at their schools "to be sure they feel safe."

Bill Graff, Sanchez' attorney, declined comment following Monday's hearing.

No agreement on sentencing has been made, but Graff told Ness that they were hoping for her to receive intensive probation for her plea.

A pre-sentence investigation will be conducted to determine the appropriate sentence for Sanchez. She is scheduled to be sentenced at 9 a.m. Aug. 22.

As a result of her plea, her original charges of aggravated assault, harassment, disorderly conduct, strangulation, attempted theft and interference with custody of children were dismissed.

Sanchez had no known relationship to any of the students on the bus or to the driver, according to Millsaps.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.