State Sen. Patty Ritchie persuaded DOT officials to repeal an order that would have required removing decals of animals from school buses. Shown here is a decal on a Hermon-DeKalb Central School District bus.

State Sen. Patty Ritchie persuaded DOT officials to repeal an order that would have required removing decals of animals from school buses. Shown here is a decal on a Hermon-DeKalb Central School District bus.

ALBANY, N.Y. — A state senator has persuaded officials to repeal an order that would have required removal of decals of animals designed to help young children identify the right school bus to take them home.

Local schools can continue to use the decals, which feature images of squirrels, cats, elephants, frogs, and other animals, after state officials repealed an earlier order that they were illegal and needed to be removed, according to a news release from Sen. Patty Ritchie's office.

“For young children who are just learning to read and recognize numbers, these decals were a friendly and, frankly, clever way to help make sure that they got home safely at the end of the school day,” Ritchie said. “That’s why so many school districts have adopted them for use on their buses.”

But, Ritchie said, school districts across the state were recently sent a letter that ordered the decals be removed, saying they violated a state law that’s meant to keep school buses free of advertising.

Ritchie contacted the state’s Department of Transportation and, within hours, the order was reversed. She praised Transportation Commissioner Matt Driscoll.

“I am glad that the Department of Transportation has withdrawn an arbitrary interpretation that would have made it harder for small children to identify the school bus they need to board to take them home, and I want to thank Commissioner Driscoll for his quick response,” Ritchie said.

Hermon-DeKalb Central School District Superintendent Mark White first brought the issue to the senator's attention.

“Young children have trouble remembering or identifying a sequence of numbers, but they can easily pick out an elephant, a squirrel, or a dog decal to help them remember what bus will take them home," White said. "I want to thank Senator Ritchie for intervening on our behalf.”

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