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March 22, 2012  |   Comments (4)   |   Post a comment

Tenn. bill would let bus drivers use force

By Thomas McMahon


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — School bus drivers would be authorized to hold students accountable for disorderly conduct, under a bill passed by the state House on Monday.

Notably, the legislation would let school bus drivers, among other school personnel, use “reasonable force when necessary under the circumstances to correct or restrain a student or prevent bodily harm or death to another person.”

Rep. Mike McDonald introduced the bill, reportedly after a school bus driver was arrested for allegedly assaulting a student but was then cleared of the charges.

Currently, Tennessee students can be suspended from school or from the bus for, among other reasons, assaulting a principal or teacher with “vulgar, obscene or threatening language.” The new bill would expand the law to include such an assault on a school bus driver or other school staff member.

The legislation would require each school district in the state to address conduct on school buses in its student conduct and discipline code. It would also require each code to state that a teacher, principal, school employee or school bus driver may use reasonable force when necessary.

On the issue of liability, the bill says that “it is a defense against a civil action for damages under this section that a teacher, principal, school employee or school bus driver in the exercise of the person's lawful authority used reasonable force … that was necessary to restrain the student or to prevent bodily harm or death to another person.”

The Tennessee House passed the legislation by a vote of 95 to 1. It is under consideration in the Senate.

If passed, the act is to take effect on July 1.


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did this pass?

susie mills    |    Aug 16, 2012 11:19 AM

It is unfortunate that this kind of legislation is starting to be adopted. I am a school bus driver, and have had to deal with situations involving violent students. In am a school bus driver in Pennsylvania, and I work for a contractor. I have been involved in a few situations while transporting children that a fight has started on the bus. I did stop the bus each time to deal with the situation. Most times the fight or disagreement stops, and I separate the students. I write up the incident on conduct forms right away. I has one situation where the student's intent was to hurt the other student until they could not get up anymore. I moved the other students to the back of the bus to get them out of harms way. I called dispatch to send police to my bus immdeiately. I had to pull the student of the other student until police arrived. Both students fought until they drew blood. I wrote up the incident and talked with the police and school district. Next thing I know I am defending myself to the school district for pulling one student off of another. What was I suppose to do let the one student beat the other senseless. I had to get the police officers that came to help me to talk to the school district and give the school their reports. If it was not for the poilce officers involved I would have lost my job. If I has to do it again I would. My job is to transport students home safely and to make sure they have a pleasant ride to and from home.

Lee Ron    |    Apr 06, 2012 05:13 AM

My CHILD in a Tennessee county was continually bullied on a school bus ride home. My Child is 12. This was a verbal attack but induced SEVERE Asthma attack. . turning to hyperventilation . THE BUS DRIVER ignored the situation completely. Never stated anything happened to the parents, the bus garage or for that matter "DID NOT RESPOND to any or all noise of the situation NOR THE MEDICAL NEEDS OF PAIN AND respiratory distress issues of my Oldest child. Ironically, my son did something wrong today....instigated by my older child bully's brother. My YOUNGER child is now kicked off the bus.....HOW SWIFTLY that situation was handled and in the wake of this bus ride gone really bad and ignored a week early.

etoile kay    |    Apr 02, 2012 07:36 PM

Unfortunately ALL states should adopt such legislation. A pilot, ship captain, bus driver and persons with responsibilities for numerous other individuals while carrying out their duties should have reasonable authority to use necessary force to protect the majority of persons from harm or possible death by the acts of another person with the intent to do harm or cause death. Training is always welcomed when new legislation is passed with new policies associated with the new laws. Most reasonable thinking people would appreciate the fact that the violent world we now all live in calls for such legislation. Does it make having to take extreme measures any easier when we may find ourselves in a situation where we need to act fast and decisively in the line of duty in order to protect others? No. Yet it does help to know that if the need arises the authority to act is there when we need to do so. We all wish we could all get along in this world but there are people in this world who just don't care about anyone else but themselves. Most everyone confined inside a plane, ship or bus expects civil order and expects the pilots, captains and bus drivers to maintain such order. I believe most parents, administrators and school board members expect the same as well. Dan Luttrell, Bedford, IN.

Dan Luttrell    |    Mar 27, 2012 06:06 PM

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