SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Education issued a rule allowing a permanent variance for the use of motorcoaches by schools and school districts, reversing an earlier statement that temporarily put a halt to the practice.
The department’s memo, issued last fall, pointed out that there was no statutory authority for the use of motorcoaches for pupil transportation in the state, according to Pupil Transportation Director Deborah Lincoln.
The ensuing protests from athletic coaches and activity directors across the state led to a temporary six-month variance for motorcoaches. The American Bus Association also provided input.
The permanent variance, published in the “Oregon Bulletin” on Dec. 1, sets out requirements for school districts wishing to request the use of motorcoaches. According to the document, schools must forward an “Appeal for Variance for Motor Coaches” to the state superintendent of public instruction, explaining the need for the use of motorcoaches and the reason that a standard school bus will not suffice. The variance must also list information identifying and certifying the carrier, including proof of passing state safety inspections and assurance that drivers used by the carrier have passed a criminal background check.
Lincoln has filed for a rule hearing scheduled for Feb. 27, and has distributed drafts to a working committee comprising motorcoach operators, pupil transportation providers, government officials and lobbyists. She plans to present the final rule to the state’s school board in March in order to achieve adoption in April.
To read the full text of the variance, visit http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/rules/bulletin_default.html.