HARRISBURG, Pa. — Gov. Tom Corbett on Tuesday approved legislation that permits the use of audio recordings on school buses.

Under Senate Bill 57, school boards that want to use audio recordings on school buses or school vehicles for disciplinary or security purposes have to adopt a policy that authorizes their use. School boards also have to send parents written notices at the beginning of each school year about audio bus recordings and post warning placards on buses about audiotaping. This portion of the bill takes effect immediately.

The bill also allows police to use audio-equipped cameras anywhere except in a residence without prior court approval. This portion of the bill will take effect 60 days from its approval.  

The Pennsylvania School Bus Association (PSBA) followed the bill’s progress and expressed support for it after it was passed by the House of Representatives late last year. In the January edition of its newsletter, the association said the bill “will be a step closer towards a safer school bus environment.”

“In this day and age where bullying is very prevalent in and out of school, having all the resources available to control behavior and resolve issues will help ensure a safe ride for students. When schools and contractors have the use of audio in conjunction with the video, discipline issues will be resolved faster and with more certainty,” PSBA wrote in the newsletter.

Officials noted that another benefit for school bus operations is that they can use audio taping under certain circumstances “without fear of criminal or civil penalties.”

The association said that there has been civil action taken against school bus contractors for using surveillance equipment with audio capabilities.