Blog

 
     

School Buses, Special Needs Students, and Safety Concerns

By Michael Klazema on 8/21/2018

Are school buses safe? Parents everywhere have been asking that question for years, and with the summer winding down and a new school year fast approaching, a fresh refrain of the query is sure to arise. According to a recent investigation by the USA Today Network New Jersey, the answer is “no”— especially for special needs students.

The article, published on NorthJersey.com, recounts recent legislative efforts to make buses safer in New Jersey and nationwide. Those efforts relate in part to a tragic bus accident that occurred on New Jersey’s Route 80 earlier this year. In that crash, Hudy Muldrow Sr., a 77-year-old bus driver, veered across three lanes of highway traffic to make an illegal U-turn using an “emergency vehicles only” turn-off. The bus was struck by oncoming traffic, killing two passengers—a 10-year-old student and a 51-year-old teacher—and injuring 40 others. Muldrow was driving the bus for a school field trip.

Muldrow’s record showed a long history of speeding violations (eight between 1975 and 2001) and license suspensions (14 between 1975 and 2017). In the ten years leading up to the crash, Muldrow also had three moving violations.

In the wake of the tragedy, lawmakers have proposed a range of legislative solutions to prevent similar fiascos in the future. These proposals focus primarily on oversight, regulation, and background checks for school bus drivers. Legislators want laws that would require more rigorous physical fitness tests for drivers, more in-depth driving record checks, and notification systems for license suspensions.

Per the USA Today Network investigation, lawmakers aren’t focusing on the part of the issue that critics say requires the most overhaul.

Special needs students, the NorthJersey.com article notes, are often bused out of their home districts to schools farther away that offer stronger special education programs. The home district is responsible for paying for this transportation, which usually means hiring a third-party busing company to get special needs students from point A to B. To save money, districts will often field bids from various companies and accept the lowest one. Districts can set up their third-party busing contracts so that the busing companies are responsible for background checks and the school districts have no liability.

These practices, combined with a nationwide shortage of bus drivers, means there isn’t much quality control at third-party bus companies. Some critics of the system suggest these third-party companies do not have the resources or interest to vet their drivers properly. Parents struggle to get information on who is driving their students to school since it isn’t clear where responsibility lies.

At a minimum, school bus driver background checks should include criminal history screeningsdriving record checks, and professional license verifications. We offer all three of these checks at backgroundchecks.com. Other screenings, such as reference checks and ongoing criminal monitoring, are a smart education investment.

One federally proposed law would add ongoing driving record monitoring to the requirements for school bus drivers. The legislation, nicknamed “Miranda’s Law” after the little girl killed in the Route 80 bus crash, would create a “nationwide employer notification system” for bus drivers. The system would notify employers if a bus driver received a speeding ticket, was involved in an accident, had his or her license suspended, or recorded other red flags. The law defines school districts as the “employers” of bus drivers even when they are using third-party companies.

This system would be a step forward for school bus safety, but Miranda’s Law would only address driving record infractions. To create a system that is truly safe for every student—including special needs students—ongoing criminal monitoring needs to be part of the equation.

 

Sources: https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/watchdog/2018/08/06/school-bus-safety-special-needs-students-risk/853913001/

http://www.mcall.com/news/nationworld/pennsylvania/mc-nws-nj-i-80-school-bus-crash-driver-charged-20180524-story.html#


Tag Cloud
Categories
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • October 18 In response to rising concerns about restricted opportunities for those in the county with a record, the county council recently adopted a new proposal to make accessing expungement easier for tens of thousands of King County residents.
  • October 16 A woman in Georgia failed a drug test and lost out on a job because there was THC in her system. The THC came not from marijuana but from a natural supplement called CBD oil.
  • October 11 Sporting organizations have long maintained lists of people barred for misconduct. A new agency wants to collect those names into a publicly searchable database.
  • October 09 In July, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed an executive order requiring criminal background checks for all Medicaid providers. Some healthcare professionals, particularly counsellors to drug addicts, worry the new rule could cost them their jobs.
  • October 05 After a city in Georgia adopted ban the box rules to increase fairness in hiring, unforeseen conflicts with additional city regulations rendered the change ineffective. The city must now find a fix. 
  • October 04 Whether you are applying for a job that involves driving or renewing your car insurance policy, your driving record can have an impact on what comes next. At backgroundchecks.com, we offer a way to check the accuracy of your record.
  • October 03 What should employers expect to see on criminal history reports, and what should job seekers expect these checks to reveal? We take a look at what shows up on criminal background checks.
  • October 02 Employers across the country are becoming more open to hiring people with criminal records. The reasons behind the shift range from new laws to the state of the job market.
  • October 01 Insurance points can affect how much you pay for your auto insurance policy. How are these points assessed and what do you need to know about them?
  • September 28 A driver’s license check includes more than just details about moving violations. Here’s what to expect if an employer or insurance provider pulls your driving record.