ST. PAUL, Minn. — A bill has been introduced in the state Legislature that would amend current law to require school bus drivers to perform a post-trip child-check inspection — a procedure that has long been required at the operation level.
Under House File 2481, school bus drivers would need to complete an interior inspection of their bus to ensure that no students are left unattended, and it would also establish reporting requirements.
Failure to perform a post-trip child check would need to be reported to the director of pupil transportation within 72 hours.
If a bus driver is convicted of not performing the required child-check procedure, the school bus driver endorsement on the person’s license would be canceled for one year.
The bill was introduced in the Minnesota State Legislature in late February and was referred to the Transportation Policy Committee.
News of this bill comes on the heels of incidents in several states where children were left unattended on school buses, including two in nearby Iowa and North Dakota, as SBF reports in its March 2014 issue.
Many school districts in Minnesota currently have a formal policy and procedures in place that require their bus drivers to conduct post-trip child check inspections.
Shelly Jonas, executive administrator for the Minnesota School Bus Operators Association, told SBF that the association conducted a membership survey five years ago, and "100% of respondents had a formal policy and procedures in place requiring a post-trip inspection."
Jonas also said that many MSBOA members focus on preventing incidents of students being left behind on school buses, either by mandating that electronic child-check reminder systems be installed on their operation's buses or through additional training requirements.
"It is a devastating event for all parties involved when something like this occurs," Jonas said of child-left-behind incidents. "Many times, the driver ends up quitting. We do not see that the threat of job loss [as stipulated in House File 2481] will help to prevent this from occurring."