Two teen girls and a friend were walking to school on May 4 when they were reportedly forced into a truancy van only 50 yards away from Grady High School in Atlanta (video below).
Carrie and Colleen Miller told 11Alive that a substitute bus driver never picked them up, so they decided to walk the 2 and a half miles to school.
"We were just walking and we see a parked MARTA, and then a MARTA police officer behind it and two men come out," Colleen said. "And they said, 'Can you get in the van?' And we were like 'Why?' But they wouldn’t tell us."
MARTA is the metro rail line in Atlanta.
"They were forcing us to get into the van, it was more like, 'Get into the van!'" Carrie added. "And we were so confused."
The twin girls filmed part of the incident on their cell phones; a man is heard saying, "Can't you just get in the van?"
"I was very upset because I knew my girls were frightened," Mark Miller, the girls' father, said. "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."
The Atlanta Public Schools said in a statement to the news station:
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."
"We were so confused," Carrie recalled. "Why are there two men not explaining why they're here? Why is it MARTA?"
"We kept questioning them and they would never fully give us real answers, it was very vague," Colleen said.
"And I was very scared that something bad would happen because you hear those stories every day," Carrie said.
Now, the girls are not allowed to walk to school, per their parents.
Some commenters on the 11Alive Facebook page wrote:
"This is so wrong on so many levels. Don't ever get into a van... IDs can be fake ..I have never heard of [an] officer doing this .. School board needs to clarify what this is all about."
"If they were only 50 yards away and walking towards the door there is absolutely zero reason for them to be stopped at the worst since they were so close to the school they should have waited to see what the girls were doing. What idiots."
"Marta Police has no business being involved with the truancy division. They are not employed by the city, county or state. They are employed by Marta."