Legislation seeking harsher penalties for leaving students unattended on school buses at the conclusion of runs was signed into law this week.
House Bill 369, which initially failed in the general counsel following the House and Senate approval, was signed by Gov. Spencer Cox on Wednesday. The bill aims to better outline school bus inspection procedures and requires certain local education agency (LEA) governing boards to establish written policies regarding school bus inspections that mandate a school bus driver inspects the entire interior of a school bus at the end of every route.
The bill states that disciplinary actions are required for drivers who fail to perform an inspection. Ron Litchfield, state transportation specialist for the Utah State Board of Education, told School Transportation News that the requirement to check for students after routes is currently included in the driver training manual and state standards, and he noted that it is also required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
“The requirement to have an LEA policy that identifies the disciplinary action for a failure to perform was an added measure to ensure that students are not left on the bus,” Litchfield said. “I have reminded our LEAs that they need to review and or update their current policies to be in compliance with this bill.”
House Bill 369 was introduced following a Salt Lake City preschool child being left on a school bus for over two hours until his driver returned to the vehicle. A local news article reported that the school did not inform Hulbert’s parents of the incident.
As previously reported by School Transportation News, the Weber School District stated that the camera on Miles’ school bus were “not operational and hadn’t been recording footage for a period of about two years.” Given the lack of video footage, it is not known if the driver had followed the COVID-19 protocol of disinfecting every seat after each route.
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