WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is sending a school bus security training program to around 15,000 public school districts, urging administrators to use it for in-service training.
Steve Sprague, TSA’s licensing, infrastructure, passenger security and grants branch chief, told state pupil transportation directors during their recent conference that the agency is mailing a DVD that has the School Bus First Observer and School Transportation Security Awareness programs to superintendents “because they have to be clued in.”
(TSA got a list of the nation’s superintendents from the U.S. Department of Education.)
Sprague noted at the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) conference that state directors should reinforce the message of the DVDs.
TSA has credited the pupil transportation industry with being one of the First Observer program’s biggest supporters, having already presented the school bus module to thousands of drivers, dispatchers and others in the system.
In related news, TSA is sending around 4,000 DVDs of the First Observer motorcoach module to every motorcoach and commercial bus company on a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration list.
Sprague also told SBF that the First Observer program, which was created by a three-year grant in 2008, will continue as a program within TSA.
“After the demise and disappearance of the ATA's [American Trucking Associations’] Highway Watch program, many worried that First Observer would endure the same fate when the grant money ran out,” he said. “We've taken steps to see that it doesn't happen. That's good news on every front.”
At the NASDPTS conference, Sprague noted the importance of security training for pupil transportation professionals.
“Some of the Bin Laden files demonstrated that [terrorists] have been open to choosing softer targets,” Sprague said. “There is nothing we’ve seen that tells us school buses are being targeted, but they could be seen as an opportune target. The key step is awareness.”