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August 05, 2011  |   Comments (6)   |   Post a comment

Managing Student Behavior Improves Onboard Safety

Pupil transporters discuss practices they have established toward this effort, such as assigned seating. They also address the importance of creating policies on eating and drinking and transporting backpacks and instruments, as well as ways to reduce noise inside the bus.

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It’s important for parents to understand theschool district’s policy on bringing largebackpacks and other items on board schoolbuses, says Larry Riggsbee of the TennesseeAssociation of Pupil Transportation.
<p>It’s important for parents to understand the<br />school district’s policy on bringing large<br />backpacks and other items on board school<br />buses, says Larry Riggsbee of the Tennessee<br />Association of Pupil Transportation.</p>

No food or drinks allowed
Due to the choking hazard that food and drinks can present, many operations do not allow these items to be consumed on the bus, and they have a policy that states as much. Nunes says that the cameras in Vail School District’s buses have helped to ensure that students are adhering to his operation’s policy.

Trejbal, on the other hand, has found it difficult to enforce her operation’s policy in spite of the cameras on many of her operation’s route buses, as students are adept at hiding behind the buses’ high seat backs while eating.

“Students who are observed breaking the rule sweep the bus for a few days, and a note is sent home to their parents,” she says. “If the problem continues, the principals take over with inhouse detention — that usually takes care of the problem.”

At Star and Strand Transportation, the operation’s no eating and drinking policy applies to students, bus drivers and monitors. Thorner says buses are checked while drivers are performing their pre-trip inspections to make sure there aren’t food or beverages inside.

Bus aisle and exits should be kept clear
Another essential component to increasing safety on board the school bus, officials say, is keeping the aisle and exits clear.

At Vail and Freeman school districts, students must keep their backpacks on their lap or in between their legs on the floor in front of them.

At Star and Strand Transportation, backpacks and instruments must be secured in the bus before the drivers begin transporting students. Thorner says there are usually empty seats on the buses, so items can be strapped in next to students.

Larry Riggsbee, executive director of the Tennessee Association of Pupil Transportation, is among the industry professionals who believe that large items on school buses can present a safety hazard (see “Oversized carry-ons create lurking danger on buses").

Riggsbee says that the first step to reducing this hazard lies with the district’s school board. Members must create clear rules about what is and is not allowed on the school bus. Those rules must then be distributed to those who play a role in the transportation of students to and from school and school-related events, including school bus drivers, parents, teachers, band directors, principals, coaches and athletic directors.

Moreover, Riggsbee says he feels that school bus drivers should be given the authority to enforce the school district’s policy regarding large items on the bus.

“Drivers shouldn’t have a ton of personal items, food or drinks on the bus,” he says. “If the driver does that, the students will do the same thing.” While Riggsbee led the transportation program at Sumner County (Tenn.) Schools, his policy was “if it’s not on the bus when I gave it to you, don’t put it on the bus.”

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Read more about: behavior management, video surveillance

No radio on my bus! It encourages students to sing and dance. However, I am in favor of letting them listen to their own music with headphones. The advantages of this are obvious.

Scott Ross    |    Aug 04, 2013 06:06 AM

With players incredibly inexpensive these days a child can bring their own headphone radio/player and listen to whatever they want. Background noise on especially the older buses are rather high, forcing conversations beyond the seat the child is sitting in to exceed at least another 10 dBA. The radio simply adds to that background noise. In an older school bus without acoustical ceilings, the kids have to scream at over 90 dBA just to be heard a few seats away. To calm the bus first enforce feet out of the aisle, and students for a variety of reasons including noise control need to sit forward in their seats. Then, the issue of excessive noise can be addressed. Restrict discussions to within the immediate seating area. It is obvious that many do not understand the relationship between feet in the aisle, sitting forward, and a child's mouth. Regardless, enforcing the two mentioned and already basic national safe practices in their order can achieve a much better outcome than the bus radio and all the excuses and other dialog this issue perpetuates. But always the killer is the inability of the adults to accept a shared responsibility to help their bus drivers keep kids safe. The problem is rarely the kids, and nearly as rare is the bus driver the problem. But both make excellent scapegoats. For supporting documentation, see: https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B77ADxjQegWOODY1ZDc2YzEtYTA4My00MjcxLWIzMGMtNWRkZGE2NWZiYzlj

jkraemer    |    Dec 09, 2011 07:45 AM

Veteran drivers and bus monitors have dealt with many of the issues you included here for many years. The driver and monitor sets the tone for what goes on or is allowed on board school buses. Children need structure and an organized approach to printed policy allows everyone involved to know and actually examine the printed policies. However, the policy is only as good as those who implement it and enforce it as the need arises. I've learned from all my years that children know if you are sincere. They can read you and can also play you when they learn you don't really mean what you say and evidently do not enforce the rules fairly to ALL students in your care. If you yell at them instead of talking to them then expect the same behavior back and don't be surprised when they stop listening to you. So yes, having training for your driver and monitor staff members will help the employees. If you have no training and just hire people to drive a bus with a load of children then don't expect much in the way of student management results. Some school systems are so large that they cannot mix high school kids with lower grades. The span of ages and size of the students dictate seating arrangements and assigned seats do work best when applied at the beginning of each school year. keep it organized and the kids will be organized. Each bus should already be provided a roster of the names, addresses, contact numbers so assigning seats per grade level usually keeps the respective smaller kids with their own groups on up to the high school levels together. So find out what a school system close to you is doing that is actually working and what training software or program that they promote in the training of their driver and monitor staff members. We usually term this - "best practices." Keep it simple and organized and you'll be surprised at your results. If it is not working then find out why or who is not doing their part in what your set goals are. Good luck.

Dan Luttrell    |    Dec 09, 2011 05:01 AM

I find that playing the radio causes the students to be louder.

Kitty Bush    |    Sep 13, 2011 12:18 PM

Do you want to eliminate bullying on the school bus? Then stop forcing middle and high school children that are wider than 13 inches, to share a seat, with two other children, in a seat that is only 39" For every child that is wider than 13 inches the bus capacity should be reduced by one.

Danny    |    Aug 19, 2011 09:55 AM

Thank you for the information regarding noise reduction and behavior management on the school bus. I like to read articles on bus issues to keep myself aware. It helps all around the "board". I've been driving since 1998 and I've learned a lot working with kids. A mutual respect develops between the kids and myself, for the most part. The cameras help on the bus also. Thanx for letting me share. -Lorraine

Lorraine Snow    |    Aug 10, 2011 11:40 PM

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