SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A bill that would require school buses in the state to be equipped with child-check reminder alarm systems received final approval from the state Senate on Friday.
SB 1072, which was authored by Sen. Tony Mendoza, is on its way to Gov. Jerry Brown after a unanimous vote of 39 to 0. The bill was approved earlier last week by the state Assembly. The governor will have until Sept. 30 to act on the bill.
SB 1072 is also known as the “Paul Lee School Bus Safety Law.” It was named after a special-needs student from Whittier who died in September 2015 after being left unattended on a school bus for several hours.
The bill would require school buses in California to be equipped with child-check reminder alarm systems. It would also require bus drivers, upon a renewal of their annual school bus driver safety certificate, to receive training in child safety check procedures.
“SB 1072 will prevent future tragedies by requiring every school bus in the state to be equipped with a child safety alarm system. No parent should fear that their child will not return home safely at the end of the day,” Mendoza said.
“It is my hope that we can find some consolation in the tragic loss of a Whittier student on a school bus, in the form of meaningful change that will safeguard other children. It should not take events like this one to spur us into action on these issues,” he added.
"Paul loved to go to school and when he took his seat on the school bus on Sept. 11, 2015, I believed he was in safe hands,” said Eun Ha Lee, Paul Lee’s mother. “But on that day, he was not safe. He was left on that hot school bus for many hours and due to the carelessness of others, my son lost his life. Paul's death should never have happened, and I will remain vigilant that it will not be without change."
If approved, SB 1072 would:
• Require all school buses to be equipped with an operational child-check reminder alarm system that prompts the driver to inspect all seats before leaving the bus. The system must be approved by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and hard-wired into the vehicle’s electrical system and activated when the ignition is turned on.
• Require drivers, upon a renewal of their annual school bus driver safety certificate, to receive training in child safety check procedures.
• Add a reporting requirement to ensure that the Department of Motor Vehicles is notified of cases when a child is left on a bus unattended.
• Direct the CHP to promulgate rules to implement the new requirements and provide a list of child safety alarms that are approved for use in school buses and a qualified technician or mechanic who can install the system.
• Grant school districts and school bus contractors a grace period of eight months after the date that the CHP issues the rules to install a child safety alarm system.