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June 17, 2011  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

New laws target safety at school, on the bus


RICHMOND, Va. — Seven bills signed into law on Tuesday by Gov. Bob McDonnell offer additional protections to students in Virginia's schools and school buses.

Several of the changes brought about by the new legislation focus on pupil transportation: making it illegal for sex offenders to operate or ride on school buses, increasing penalties for drivers who pass stopped school buses, and allowing localities to install video cameras on buses to record illegal passing.

Other provisions make certain drugs and bath salts controlled substances, expand existing laws making obscene language sent by electronic means a crime, and require a survey to identify other risk factors faced by students and improve substance abuse programs.

"The foremost obligation of government is public safety, and protecting our youngest citizens so that they may focus on their education is a moral obligation for all Virginians," McDonnell said.

Delegate Rob Bell, sponsor of the bills to restrict sex offenders' access to school buses and to expand obscene-language laws, said that "students should not only be protected when they are in the school building, but when they are traveling to and from their school and when interacting with other students."

The new laws go into effect July 1. For more information, go here.

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