POLICY 3545: STUDENT TRANSPORTATION SAFETY POLICY

Revised: January 7, 2019

I. PURPOSE

The purpose of this policy is to provide safe transportation for students and to educate students on safety issues and the responsibilities of school bus ridership.

II. PLAN FOR STUDENT TRANSPORTATION SAFETY TRAINING

  1. School Bus Safety Week. The school district may designate a school bus safety week. The National School Bus Safety Week is the third full week in October.
  2. Student Training
    1. The school district shall provide students enrolled in grades kindergarten (K) through 10 with age-appropriate school bus safety training of the following concepts:
      1. transportation by school bus is a privilege, not a right;
      2. school district policies for student conduct and school bus safety;
      3. appropriate conduct while on the bus;
      4. the danger zones surrounding a school bus;
      5. procedures for safely boarding and leaving a school bus;
      6. procedures for safe vehicle lane crossing; and
      7. school bus evacuation and other emergency procedures.
    2. All students in grades K through 6 who are transported by school bus and are enrolled during the first or second week of school must receive the school bus safety training by the end of the third week of school. All students in grades 7 through 10 who are transported by school bus and are enrolled during the first or second week of school must receive the school bus safety training or receive bus safety instruction materials by the end of the sixth week of school, if they have not previously received school bus training. Students in grades K-10, who enroll in a school after the second week of school, are transported by school bus, have not received training in their previous school districts, shall undergo school bus safety training or receive bus safety instructional materials within four weeks of their first day of attendance.
    3. The school district and a nonpublic school with students transported by school bus at public expense must provide students enrolled in grades K through 3 school bus safety training twice during the school year.
    4. Students taking driver’s training instructional classes must receive training in the laws and proper procedures for operating a motor vehicle in the vicinity of a school bus as required by Minn. Stat. § 169.446, Subds. 2 and 3.
    5. The school district and a nonpublic school with students transported by school bus at public expense must conduct a school bus evaluation drill at least once during the school year.
    6. The school district will make reasonable accommodations in training for students known to speak English as a second language and students with disabilities.
    7. The district may provide kindergarten students with school bus safety training before the first day of school.
    8. The school district may provide student safety education for bicycling and pedestrian safety for students in grades K through 5.
    9. The school district shall adopt and make available for public review a curriculum for transportation safety education. (A.R. 3545)
    10. Nonpublic school students transported by the school district will receive school bus safety training by their nonpublic school. The nonpublic schools may use the school district’s school transportation safety education curriculum. Upon request by the school district superintendent, the nonpublic school must certify to the school district’s school transportation safety coordinator that all students enrolled in grades K through 10 have received the appropriate training.

III. CONDUCT ON SCHOOL BUSES AND CONSEQUENCES FOR MISBEHAVIOR

  1. Riding the school bus is a privilege, not a right. The school district’s general student behavior rules are in effect for all students on school buses; including nonpublic and charter school students.
  2. Consequences for school bus misconduct will be imposed by the school district under adopted administrative discipline procedures. In addition, all school bus misconduct will be reported to the school district’s transportation safety director. Serious misconduct may be reported to local law enforcement.
    1. School Bus and Bus Stop Rules. The school district school bus safety rules are to be posted on every bus. If these rules are broken, the school district’s discipline procedures are to be followed. Consequences are progressive and may include suspension of bus privileges. It is the school bus driver’s responsibility to report unacceptable behavior to the school district’s Transportation Office/School Office.
    2. Expectations at the Bus Stop
      1. Get to your bus stop five minutes before your scheduled pick up time. The school bus driver will not wait for late students and cannot turn the bus around.
      2. Respect the property of others while waiting at your bus stop.
      3. Keep your arms, legs and belongings to yourself.
      4. Use appropriate language.
      5. Stay away from the street, road or highway when waiting for the bus.
      6. Wait until the bus stops before approaching the bus.
      7. After getting off the bus, move away from the bus.
      8. If you must cross the street, always cross in front of the bus where the driver can see you. Wait for the driver to signal to you before crossing the street.
      9. No fighting, harassment, intimidation or horseplay.
      10. No use or possession of alcohol, tobacco or drugs.
    3. Rules on the Bus
      1. Immediately follow the directions of the driver.
      2. Sit in your seat facing forward.
      3. Talk quietly and use appropriate language.
      4. Keep all parts of your body inside the bus.
      5. Keep your arms, legs and belongings to yourself.
      6. No fighting, harassment, intimidation or horseplay.
      7. Do not throw any object.
      8. No eating, drinking, or use of tobacco, alcohol or drugs.
      9. Do not bring any weapons or dangerous objects on the school bus.
      10. Do not damage the school bus.
    4. Consequences
      1. Consequences for school bus/bus stop misconduct will apply to all regular and late routes. Decisions regarding a student’s ability to ride the bus in connection with co-curricular and extracurricular events (for example, field trips or competitions) will be in the sole discretion of the school district. Parents or guardians will be notified of any suspension of bus privileges.
        1. Primary and Middle School (K-7)
          • 1st offense — Principal confers with student and notifies parents.
          • 2nd offense — Principal confers with student and notifies parents. Detention may be given.
          • 3rd offense — Student is excluded from the bus for 5 school days, parents will be notified.
          • 4th offense — Student is excluded from the bus for 10 school days, parents will be notified.
          • 5th offense – Student is excluded from the bus for some period of time, no longer than the remainder of the school year, parents will be notified.
          • Severe Behavior – Consequences may be increased at Principal’s discretion.
          • Note: If a child is excluded from the bus, parents must arrange alternate transportation. When a student goes 60 transportation days without a report, the student’s consequences may start over at the first offense.
        2. High School (8-12)
          • 1st offense — Student is given one hour of detention.
          • 2nd offense — Student is given two hours of detention.
          • 3rd offense — Student is excluded from the bus for 5 school days, parents will be notified.
          • 4th offense — Student is excluded from the bus for 10 school days, parents will be notified.
          • 5th offense — Student is excluded from the bus for remainder of the school year, parents will be notified.
          • Severe Behavior – Consequences may be increased at Principal’s discretion.
          • Note: If a child is excluded from the bus, parents must arrange alternate transportation. When a student goes 60 transportation days without a report, the student’s consequences may start over at the first offense.
      2. Other Discipline. Based on the severity of a student’s conduct, more serious consequences may be imposed at any time. Depending on the nature of the offense, consequences such as suspension or expulsion from school also may result from school bus/bus stop misconduct. In the event that disciplinary procedures are not invoked because of extenuating circumstances in the case of a student, the principal shall notify the transportation coordinator in so far as is possible about the circumstances. The coordinator, in turn, is obligated to inform the reporting student transportation driver.
      3. Records. Records of school bus/bus stop misconduct will be forwarded to the individual school building and will be retained in the same manner as other student discipline records. Reports of student misbehavior on a school bus or in a bus-loading or unloading area that are reasonably believed to cause an immediate and substantial danger to the student or surrounding persons or property shall be provided by the school district to local law enforcement and the Department of Public Safety in accordance with state and federal law. 
      4. Vandalism/Bus Damage. Students damaging school buses will be responsible for the damages. Failure to pay such damages (or make arrangements to pay) within two weeks may result in the loss of bus privileges until damages are paid.
      5. Notice. School bus rules and bus stop expectations and consequences for violations of these rules will be reviewed annually and copies of these rules will be made available to students. School bus rules are to be posted on each school bus.
      6. Criminal Conduct. In cases involving criminal conduct (for example, assault, weapons, possession or vandalism), the appropriate school district personnel and local law enforcement officials will be informed.

IV. PARENT AND GUARDIAN INVOLVEMENT

  1. Parent and Guardian Notification. The school district school bus rules and bus stop expectations will be provided to each family. Parents and guardians are asked to review the rules with their children.
  2. Parent/Guardian Responsibilities for Transportation Safety. Parents/Guardians are responsible to:
    1. Become familiar with school district rules and policies, regulations and principles of school bus safety, and thoroughly review them with their children (These are posted on the Westonka District website);
    2. Support safe riding and walking practices and recognize that students are responsible for their actions;
    3. Communicate safety concerns to school administrators;
    4. Monitor bus stops, if possible;
    5. Have their children to the bus stop five (5) minutes before the bus arrives;
    6. Have their children properly dressed for the weather; and
    7. Have a plan in case the bus is late.

V. SCHOOL BUS DRIVER DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

  1. School bus drivers shall have a valid Class A, B, or C Minnesota driver’s license with a school bus endorsement. A person possessing a valid driver’s license without a school bus endorsement may drive a vehicle with a seating capacity of 10 or fewer persons used as a school bus, but not outwardly equipped or identified as a school bus as set forth in Section VII.B., below.
  2. The transportation company shall conduct mandatory drug and alcohol testing of all school district bus drivers and bus driver applicants in accordance with state and federal law and company policy.

VI. SCHOOL BUS DRIVER TRAINING

  1. Training.
    1. All new drivers, school bus and type III, shall be provided with pre-service training, including in-vehicle (actual driving) instruction before transporting students and shall meet the competency testing specified in the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Model School Bus Driver Training Manual. All school bus drivers shall receive in-service training annually. For purposes of this section, “annually” means at least once every 380 days from the initial or previous evaluation and at least once every 380 days from the initial previous license verification. The transportation company shall retain on file an annual individual school bus driver “evaluation certification” form for each school district driver as contained in the Model School Bus Driver Training Manual.
    2. All bus drivers operating a type III vehicle will be provided with annual training and certification as set forth in Section VII.C.1.b., below, by either the school district or the entity from whom such services are contracted by the school district.
  2. Evaluation. All school bus drivers will be evaluated annually for the following competencies:
    1. Safely operate the type of school bus the driver will be driving;
    2. Understand student behavior, including issues relating to students with disabilities;
    3. Ensure orderly conduct of students on the bus and handling incidents of misconduct appropriately;
    4. Know and understand relevant laws, rules of the road and local school bus safety policies;
    5. Handle emergency situations; and
    6. Safely load and unload students.

      The evaluation must include completion of an individual “school bus driver evaluation form” (road test evaluation) as contained in the Model School Bus Driver Training Manual.

VI. OPERATING RULES AND PROCEDURES

  1. General Operating Rules
    1. School buses shall be operated in accordance with state traffic and school bus safety laws and the procedures contained in the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Model School Bus Driver Training Manual.
    2. Only students assigned to the school bus shall be transported. The number of students or other authorized passengers transported in a school bus shall not be more than the legal capacity for the bus. No person shall be allowed to stand when the bus is in motion.
    3. Drivers are to enforce the provisions of the school bus and bus stop rules as appropriate. Students may be released from the bus at only two points, the designated bus stop or at school, except in case of an emergency or as otherwise authorized.
    4. The parent/guardian may designate by a signed, written request pursuant to school district policy, a day care facility, respite care facility, or the residence of a relative or the residence of a person chosen by the parent or guardian as the address of the student for transportation purposes. The address must be in the attendance area of the assigned school and meet other eligibility requirements.
    5. Bus drivers must minimize, to the extent practical, the idling of school bus engines and exposure of children to diesel exhaust fumes.
    6. To the extent practical, the school district will designate school bus loading/unloading zones at a sufficient distance from school air-intake systems to avoid diesel fumes from being drawn into the systems.
    7. A bus driver may not operate a school bus or Type III vehicle while communicating over, or otherwise operating, a cellular phone for personal reasons, whether hand-held or hands free, when the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic. “Cellular phone” means a cellular, analog, wireless, or digital telephone capable of sending or receiving telephone or text messages without an access line for service.
  2. Type III Vehicles
    1. Type III vehicles are restricted to passenger cars, station wagons, vans, and buses having a maximum manufacturer’s rated seating capacity of 10 or fewer people including the driver and a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less. A van or bus converted to a seating capacity of 10 or fewer and placed in service on or after August 1, 1999, must have been originally manufactured to comply with the passenger safety standards.
    2. Type III vehicles must be painted a color other than national school bus yellow. Policy No. 3545 Page 8 of 12
    3. Type III vehicles shall be state inspected in accordance with legal requirements.
    4. A Type III vehicle cannot be older than 12 years old unless excepted by state and federal law.
    5. If a Type III vehicle is school district owned, the school district name will be clearly marked on the side of the vehicle. The Type III vehicle must not have the words “school bus” in any location on the exterior of the vehicle or in any interior location visible to a motorist.
    6. A “Type III school bus” and “Type III Head Start bus” must not be outwardly equipped and identified as a Type A, B, C, or D bus.
    7. Eight-lamp warning systems and stop arms must not be installed or used on Type III vehicles.
    8. Type III vehicles must be equipped with mirrors as required by law.
    9. Any Type III vehicle may not stop traffic and may not load or unload before making a complete stop and disengaging gears by shifting into neutral or park. Any Type III vehicle used to transport students must not load or unload so that a pupil has to cross the road, except where not possible or impractical, then the driver or assistant must escort a pupil across the road. If the driver escorts the student across the road, then the motor must be stopped, the ignition key removed, the brakes set, and the vehicle otherwise rendered immobile.
    10. Any Type III vehicle used to transport students must carry emergency equipment including:
      1. Fire extinguisher. A minimum of one 10BC rated dry chemical type fire extinguisher is required. The extinguisher must be mounted in a bracket, and must be located in the driver’s compartment and be readily accessible to the driver and passengers. A pressure indicator is required and must be easily read without removing the extinguisher from its mounted position.
      2. First aid kit and body fluids cleanup kit. A minimum of a ten-unit first aid kit and a body fluids cleanup kit is required. They must be contained in removable, moisture- and dust-proof containers mounted in an accessible place within the driver’s compartment and must be marked to indicate their identity and location.
      3. Passenger cars and station wagons may carry the necessary emergency equipment in the trunk or trunk area of the vehicle if a label in the driver and front passenger area clearly indicates the location of these items.
    11. Students will not be regularly transported in private vehicles that are not state inspected as Type III vehicles. Only emergency, unscheduled transportation may be conducted in vehicles with a seating capacity of 10 or fewer without meeting the requirements for a Type III vehicle. Also, parents may use a private vehicle to transport their own children under a contract with the district. The school district has no system of inspection for private vehicles.
    12. All drivers of Type III vehicles will be licensed drivers and will be familiar with the use of required emergency equipment. The school district will not knowingly allow a person to operate a Type III vehicle if the person has been convicted of an offense that disqualifies the person from operating a school bus.
    13. Type III vehicles will be equipped with child passenger restraints, and child passenger restraints will be utilized to the extent required by law.
    14. Type III vehicles can be driven by employees with an A, B, C, or D driver’s license without a school bus endorsement. With the exception of not having a commercial driver’s license, type III drivers are required to follow the same policies and go through background checks, mandatory drug and alcohol testing and annual evaluations.
  3. Multifunction School Activity Bus. The holder of a class D driver’s license, without a school bus endorsement, may operate a type A multifunction school activity bus under the following conditions:
    1. The operator is an employee of the entity that owns, leases, or contracts for the school bus and is not solely hired to provide transportation services under this subdivision.
    2. The operator drives the school bus only from points of origin to points of destination, not including home-to-school trips to pick up or drop off students.
    3. The operator is prohibited from using the eight-light system. Violation of this paragraph is a misdemeanor.
    4. The operator's employer has adopted and implemented a policy that provides for annual training and certification of the operator in the safe operation of the school bus, knowing relevant laws and rules of the road, handling emergency situations and the safe loading and unloading of students.

VI. SCHOOL DISTRICT EMERGENCY PROCEDURES

  1. If possible, school bus drivers or their supervisors shall call “911” or the local emergency phone number in the event of a serious emergency.
  2. School bus drivers shall meet the emergency training requirements contained in Unit III “Crash & Emergency Preparedness” of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Model School Bus Driver Training Manual. This includes procedures in the event of a crash (accident).
    1. Fire. In the event of a fire, the first priority is to evacuate the bus. Drivers will make certain passengers are safe before attempting to put out the fire.
    2. Injuries/Medical Emergencies. Drivers should first contact the dispatcher to call 911 in the case of serious injuries. Drivers should administer proper first aid in accordance with their training and level of ability. In the event an injured passenger is taken to the hospital, record the student’s name and the name of the hospital where the student is sent.
    3. Tornado. If there is likelihood that a tornado will hit a vehicle, and there is no escape route available or no time to drive to a safe location, the driver should evacuate the bus, taking the first aid kit. The driver will take the students to the basement of a nearby building or to the nearest depression or ditch upwind (toward the storm) of the bus far enough away from the bus so that the bus will not roll over on them and instruct them to cover their heads with their arms. If the students are wearing coats or jackets, these can be used to provide additional protection for their heads and bodies. If drivers are on the road when they hear a tornado warning or spot a funnel, and there is no time to evacuate the students after stopping the bus, drivers should have the students assume the protective position, remaining in their seats, with their heads below window level.
    4. Emergency Cold Weather Stop. If a vehicle is stuck or stalled in cold weather, the driver should call for assistance and wait for help. The driver should avoid relying on the engine to provide heat for the driver and passengers as long as possible. If it is necessary to run the engine to provide heat, the driver will make sure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow, open windows for ventilation, and check passengers frequently for headaches or drowsiness.
    5. Weapons. If a driver observes or learns that a passenger may have a weapon (as defined in Policy #1512) on the bus, he or she should remain calm and call for assistance using a pre-determined code. The driver should give the location of the bus to the dispatcher, continue the route and wait for assistance. The driver should not inform the passenger suspected of having the weapon that he or she knows of the weapon.
  3. School bus drivers and bus assistants for special education students requiring special transportation service because of their handicapping condition shall be trained in basic first aid procedures, shall within one month after the effective date of assignment participate in a program of in-service training on the proper methods for dealing with the specific needs and problems of pupils with disabilities, assist pupils with disabilities on and off the bus when necessary for their safe ingress and egress from the bus; and ensure that protective safety devices are in use and fastened properly.
  4. Emergency Health Information shall be maintained on the school bus, in the transportation office or with the dispatcher for students requiring special transportation service because of their handicapping condition. The information shall state:
    1. the pupil’s name and address;
    2. the nature of the pupil’s disabilities;
    3. emergency health care information; and
    4. the names and telephone numbers of the pupil’s physician, parents, guardians, or custodians, and some person other than the pupil’s parents or custodians who can be contacted in case of an emergency.

VI. SCHOOL DISTRICT VEHICLE MAINTENANCE STANDARDS

  1. All school vehicles shall be maintained in safe operating conditions through a systematic preventative maintenance and inspection program adopted or approved by the school district.
  2. All school vehicles shall be state inspected in accordance with legal requirements.
  3. A copy of the current daily pre-trip inspection report must be carried in the bus. Daily pre-trip inspections shall be maintained on file in accordance with the school district’s record retention schedule. Prompt reports of defects to be immediately corrected will be submitted.
  4. Daily post-trip inspection shall be performed to check for any children or lost items remaining on the bus and for vandalism.

X. SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY COORDINATOR

The school board has designated an individual to serve as the school district’s school transportation safety coordinator. The school transportation safety coordinator shall have day-to-day responsibility for pupil transportation safety, including transportation of nonpublic school children when provided by the school district. The school transportation safety coordinator will assure that this policy is periodically reviewed to ensure that it conforms to law. The school transportation safety coordinator shall certify annually to the school board that each school bus driver meets the school bus driver training competencies required by Minn. Stat. § 171.321, subd. 4. The transportation safety coordinator also shall annually verify or ensure that the private contractor utilized by the school has verified the validity of the driver’s license of each employee who regularly transports students for the school district with the National Driver’s Register or the Department of Public Safety. Upon request of the school district superintendent or the superintendent of the school district where nonpublic students are transported, the school transportation safety director also shall certify to the superintendent that students have received school bus safety training in accordance with state law. The name, address and telephone number of the school transportation safety coordinator are on file in the school district office. Any questions regarding student transportation or this policy may be addressed to the school transportation safety director.

Legal References:

  • Minn. Stat. § 123B.42 (Textbooks; Individual Instructor or Cooperative Learning Material; Standard Tests)
  • Minn. Stat. § 123B.88 (Independent School Districts; Transportation)
  • Minn. Stat. § 123B.885 (Diesel School Buses; Operation of Engine; Parking)
  • Minn. Stat. § 123B.90 (School Bus Safety Training)
  • Minn. Stat. § 123B.91 (School District Bus Safety Responsibilities)
  • Minn. Stat. Ch. 169 (Traffic Regulations)
  • Minn. Stat. § 169.011, Subds. 15, 16 and 71 (Definitions)
  • Minn. Stat. § 169.02 (Scope)
  • Minn. Stat. § 169.446, Subds. 2 and 3 (Driver Training and Education Programs)
  • Minn. Stat. § 169.454 (Type III Vehicle Standards)
  • Minn. Stat. § 169.4582 (Reportable Offense on School Buses)
  • Minn. Stat. § 171.02, Subd 2a (Licenses; Types, Endorsements, Restrictions)
  • Minn. Stat. § 171.321 (Qualifications of a School Bus Driver)
  • Minn. Rules Parts 7470.1000-7470.1700 (School Bus Inspection)
  • 49 C.F.R. § 383.5 (Transportation Definitions) 


Adopted: 1994