HomeOperationsKentucky House Bills Call for Changes to Student Transportation

Kentucky House Bills Call for Changes to Student Transportation

Two Kentucky bills relating to student discipline policies on school buses and the use of alternative transportation vehicles are moving forward.

House Bill 446 aims to address increasing student behavior issues on board school buses by requiring child and parent buy-in to transportation policies and establishing consequences for misbehavior. The law would require local school boards to adopt a transportation services policy relating to discipline guidelines.

If passed, it also would require the Kentucky Department of Education to create a model transportation services policy.

A resulting separate behavior policy that emphasizes transportation service is a privilege would clearly state student rider expectations as well as expectations for parents and guardians, bill sponsor Rep. Emily Callaway said during a hearing.

Local school boards would be required to create a detailed provision of transportation services policies and create processes for transportation operators to report. School bus driver complaints filed about an incident would be heard during the student’s disciplinary proceedings. Additionally, the driver would receive notice of the investigation and what disciplinary action is being taken against the student, to the extent permitted by law.

Student transportation privileges could be revoked based on failure to acknowledge transportation services policy. The transportation services policy must also be included in district safety plans.

“We want to be sure bus drivers’ opinions are considered when an incident occurs on their bus …,” Callaway added.

She noted that if a student puts themselves, other students or the driver in danger, the policy allows for driver discretion on how to appropriately act.

Callaway pointed out that the bill directs boards to create a policy that allows drivers to opt out of transporting that student.

“That will look different for different counties and is not meant to be burdensome to administrators or other drivers when considering other routes and options,” she said. “It is intended to reduce unintentional fails when addressing particularly dangerous students and circumstances. Drivers have a huge responsibility, and we should respect and address concerns thoroughly.”

The policy would act as a contract requiring signatures from parents and the school district. It would serve as a clear notice and document to parents that aggressive behavior will have consequences and not be tolerated, Calloway added.

The bill passed the House on a 93-1 vote and advanced to the Senate.

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Meanwhile, Calloway also sponsors House Bill 447, which would permit school districts to use district-owned, leased or contracted passenger vehicles that transport nine or fewer passengers for home to school and school activity trips.

A law would provide that vehicles are to be operated by an employee or contractor of a local school district and that the Kentucky Department of Education would promote and establish minimum standards and specifications for an alternative transportation plan. This would included route safety standards and pick-up and drop-off protocols for non-school bus vehicles that prohibit students being let off at a location where they would need to cross a road or intersection.

It would also require the driver of any non-school bus passenger vehicle authorized to transport students to submit an annual national and state criminal background checks and require certain traffic offenses or arrests to be reported to the superintendent. Drivers would also be required to undo drug testing. Those who transport students without a current driver’s license would be guilty of a Class D felony.

HB 447 also would require the non-school bus passenger vehicle to be clearly marked as transporting students and to undergo a safety inspection at least every 30 days.

That bill passed the House with a 92-1 vote and is also currently in the Senate.

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