Courtesy of:  KMJNOW.com

A student was struck this morning by a bus as she was trying to walk across the cross walk. 

It happened around 7:30 this morning when a Bullard High School student was trying to get to school. 

Fresno Police Officer Joe Sacca said the bus was heading eastbound on Browning and was making a left turn on Palm. 

"We do believe from some independent witnesses that the student was in the right of way."

Sacca said the bus driver had just dropped off students at the high school.

"We're still talking with the driver of the bus to try to find out exactly what occurred."

Police said the female student sustained minor injuries to the face and hands and was transported to a hospital.


Article Online:  http://www.kmjnow.com/pages/landing?School-Bus-Hits-Student=1&blockID=691391&feedID=806


 
 
 
 


Durham School Bus Workers Speak Out About Safety, Wage Theft Concerns
 
ROSEDALE, Md., May 23, 2013 — /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 
School bus drivers and attendants with Durham School Services who transport students attending Baltimore City Public Schools
joined with Teamsters, political and other community leaders at a rally today to demand respect and safe working conditions.
 
Durham workers spoke out about workplace safety and service issues that may impact the safe transportation of area schoolchildren.

"I have reported mold problems on our bus for years and the problem is not fixed. I'm scared for the kids on the bus," said Stephanie Urosa, a six-year attendant on a bus for children with special needs. "Some of the children we transport have weakened immune systems and allergies and they don't need to be exposed to this. Mold is just one of a number of safety concerns we have."

In addition to mold, drivers and attendants spoke about fuel leaks, electrical problems, problems with the air brakes and a recent fire on a school bus. 

"Safety is paramount. Durham has ignored the workers' concerns about the unsafe conditions of the buses. Making matters worse, workers aren't getting a fair day's pay for a fair day's work. These workers deserve a strong union so their voices can be heard and our kids can be kept safe," said Sean Cedenio, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 570 in Baltimore.

"I support the bus drivers and attendants' fundamental right to collectively bargain. In light of the troubling reports about unsafe school buses and serious wage and hour issues, the workers here have a very important voice that should be heard," said J. Ronald DeJuliis, Maryland Commissioner of Labor and Industry.
 
More than 85 Durham drivers and attendants have signed on to a class-action lawsuit claiming wage theft by the contractor. In the lawsuit filed March 12 with the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, the plaintiffs bring claims to recover wages owed by the company.

"This company has been taking the money we earn. I'm not paid for all of the hours I work and my paycheck hasn't been correct for the last year. We got so tired of reporting these pay issues without the company resolving the problem that the drivers and attendants had no choice but to file a class-action lawsuit to get the pay that we have worked hard for and earned," said Mildred Israel, a Durham driver in Rosedale.

In 2012 Durham workers filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) over surveillance by the company as the workers began to organize to form a union with Local 570. The NLRB found in favor of the workers and issued Durham with a 60-day probation order in March 2013.

While under probation, Durham continued to violate labor laws and the workers were forced to file another unfair labor practice charge on May 1 against the company over illegal surveillance.

About 150 drivers and attendants work for Durham in Rosedale. Durham is the second-largest school bus company in the United States and a subsidiary of National Express Group PLC, a United Kingdom-based multinational transportation company.

Drive Up Standards is a national campaign to improve safety, service and work standards in the private school bus and transit industry. Since the campaign began in 2006, more than 35,700 drivers, monitors, aides, attendants and mechanics have become Teamsters
 

Read more here:
http://www.heraldonline.com/2013/05/23/4887622/durham-school-bus-workers-speak.html#storylink=cpy
 
 
Courtesy of:  Doug Evans, FOX 5 reporter

HARALSON COUNTY, Ga. -  
A Haralson County school bus driver said he was fired from his job because of an angry Facebook post about a hungry child.

Johnny Cook said the middle school student complained that because his lunch money account had run out and cafeteria staff workers at Haralson County Middle School turned him away.

Cook posted his phone number in the after school rant on Facebook and said call him next time, he'd pay to feed any hungry child with no money.

The post quickly spread on Facebook.

Cook says the school system  told him to take down the post and face suspension or he'd be fired. Cook kept the post up and is no longer a bus driver.

"I'm terminated.  But me being terminated doesn't feed the next  kid that walks up in line and doesn't have money," Cook said.

Haralson County Superintendent Brett Stanton  would not comment on the reason Johnny Cook was fired, but he said that the  district has a social media policy against posts that disrupt the system.

Aside from that, Stanton says the lunch  incident never happened. He said that cafeteria workers routinely chip in their  own money to feed hungry kids and that there are policies to make sure every kid  is fed.

"In talking with the middle school  principal and the cafeteria manager, that just did not happen," Stanton said. 

Stanton admitted that the boy's story  would have outraged him as well.

"Well I think from my standpoint -- you've got to have facts and...looking into the situation, the facts don't tell me the child was neglected and turned away," Stanton said.

Cook trains horses for a living and need the job for its insurance benefits.  He said that he believes  the child's story and is contemplating a run for school board.

Video and article online:  http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/story/22418863/bus-driver-says-he-was-fired-for-facebook-post-about-hungry-kid?auto&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=8917034#.UZ_l0QHj7mt.twitter

 
 
Source:  "The School Staffing Surge
          
Decades of Employment Growth in America's Public Schools - Part II"
               by Benjamin Scafidi, Ph.D. - February 2013

"In the United States, the ratio of students to non-teaching staff is a bit higher than the ratio of students to
teachers, 15.9 versus 15.3, respectively. Those data indicate there are more teachers employed in American public schools than there are other non-teaching personnel. However, that difference has been shrinking for at least 60 years.
Furthermore, 21 states in FY 2009 employed fewer teachers than administrators and other non-teaching personnel.

Georgia is one of those 21 states.

Read more here OR download file below:  http://www.edchoice.org/CMSModules/EdChoice/FileLibrary/968/The-School-Staffing-Surge---Decades-of-Employment-Growth-in-America-s-Public-Schools--Part-2.pdf
the-school-staffing-surge---decades-of-employment-growth-in-america-s-public-schools--part-2.pdf
File Size: 1103 kb
File Type: pdf
Download File

 
 
Courtesy of Associate Press

LAFAYETTE — Lafayette Parish schools may make it easier to become a substitute school bus driver.

Transportation Director Bill Samec has asked the parish school board to suspend its requirement that a driver have a high school diploma or equivalency diploma, The Advocate reports.

Samec said that when the district sought part-time drivers in March, it didn’t find enough to meet its goal of 30 for the next
school year.

Part-time, substitute drivers are often promoted to full-time drivers in Lafayette.

Linda Matthew, former president of the Louisiana School Bus Operators Association, said the problem is low pay. Substitute drivers make between $56 and $86 a day.

“There is definitely a shortage throughout the state,” Matthew said. “It’s not a question of education…. It’s the pay.”

Matthew also said training on topics such as bullying prevention and ethics requires drivers to take time away from their second
jobs.

The number of available substitutes typically fluctuates with the economy, particularly the status of the oil and gas
industry, Samec said.

“When oil is between $90 and $100 a barrel, we can’t find drivers. If oil is $40 a barrel, we’ve got people knocking on the door,”
Samec said.

The substitute shortage is “critical” in the Iberia Parish school system, where there are only 13 substitutes for 129 drivers, said
Raymond Noel, Iberia Parish Schools transportation director.

“We spend a lot of time shuffling routes because of the shortage of substitutes,” he said. “It’s an ongoing issue. A couple of years
ago, we were down to three or four substitutes.”

In Lafayette, Samec said he fears the district will start the school year without enough people to cover for absent drivers.

“We have about a 10 percent daily absentee rate for  bus drivers,” he said. “That’s basically 30 people out about every day. Even
with 30 substitutes, I’ve got staff members driving buses.”

Article online: 


 
 
Courtesy of: Associated Press

Some lawmakers want to shift inspections to a new department, and that move could derail a bill that closes a loophole regarding buses with chronic problems.

DES MOINES -- Most Iowa lawmakers agree that changes need to be made to the state's system for inspecting school buses, but it's unlikely a bill will pass this year because they can't agree on what should be done.

A bill that would help close loopholes in the inspection system by requiring buses with serious problems to be re-inspected before returning to service passed the Iowa Senate on a 46-2 vote.

At least 99 school buses in Iowa have been found to have the same problems in consecutive inspections over the past five years. And Iowa school vehicles that carry fewer than 10 children aren't required to undergo safety inspections.

Some lawmakers now want to shift bus inspections out of the Education Department and into the state Transportation Department, and that move could derail the legislation, the Des Moines Register reported.

Republican Rep. Kevin Koester, of Ankeny, said school buses should undergo the same inspections as commercial vehicles, even if the revised bill can't be passed this year.

"I am not in a hurry to pass a bill that's not that adequate," he said. And the Education Department can make some changes to the inspections without a new law.

But former lawmaker Mike Cormack, who works for the Education Department, said moving the inspections would only delay needed improvements.

"It's careless and reckless to do lawmaking on something as important as the safety of children in the waning days of a legislative session," Cormack said. "The best thing would be to take the more well-vetted legislation and send it to
the governor's office."

Koester said moving inspections to the Transportation Department should save school districts money.

Article online:  http://www.thonline.com/news/iowa-illinois-wisconsin/article_17d41bad-44bf-54c1-8b56-96c9222498de.html


 
 
  • Article courtesy of:  Bob Segall @ WTHR.com

  • The number of serious safety violations found on Indiana school buses has jumped sharply, but most parents would have no way of knowing. 13 Investigates is now doing something that's never been done before: releasing inspection results for every school bus in the state. For many Indiana school districts, the online database paints a troubling picture of poor maintenance practices, apathy and risk-taking that puts student safety at risk.

    On a cool morning in May, as bus 117 rolls towards his driveway, Art Mabry looks down and smiles.

    "Give me a kiss and have a good day," he says, briefly locking eyes with his second-grade granddaughter before watching her climb aboard.  Moments later, the Warren Township school bus pulls around the corner, carrying Haley Mabry to elementary school – and also carrying a secret.

    Like many school buses in Warren Township, bus 117 has a history of serious safety violations. It recently failed its annual safety inspection.

    Art Mabry had no idea.

    "This is my routine. Every day, I put her on that bus, but I didn't know about any of that," he said, looking at a list of violations state inspectors recently found on bus 117. "Bad brakes? Bad steering? Engine problems? Oil and fluid leaks? If there's those kinds of issues going on, that's just total neglect for the safety of all these little children on these buses."

    Bus 117 is certainly not alone.

    View safety information on all Indiana school buses

    Inspection documents show safety violations involving thousands of school buses all over the state. Many of the violations are for serious safety problems that put hundreds of thousands of students at risk.

    Rigorous inspections

    Every school bus in Indiana must be inspected at least once per year. It's state law.

    Indiana State Police troopers conduct the inspections, which cover all aspects of the vehicle's operation.

    Inspectors say detecting mechanical issues is a crucial step in helping to prevent school bus accidents. And if there were to be an accident, state police want to make sure emergency equipment inside the bus is working so students can safely escape.

    "I look at every bus as a bus my child would be riding," said ISP motor carrier inspector Chris Kath. "These buses are transporting our children. What's more important than that?"

    Kath looks for even minor problems such as holes in seat cushions, broken brackets and trash left on a bus.

    But he says it's more serious violations involving brakes, tires, engines, and safety equipment that can result in a bus being classified as Out of Service.

    "Out of Service violations are something that could harm the student. It means [the bus] has what we deem a serious safety violation and they cannot transport passengers," he explained.

    Indiana State Police tell WTHR no more than 5- to 10-percent of a school district's buses should be placed Out of Service during an annual inspection.

    But Eyewitness News has found for many school districts, the Out of Service rate is much higher.

    "Wow. That's Terrible"

    13 Investigates obtained inspection results for every school bus in Indiana. They show some of Indiana's largest school districts have a horrible safety record when it comes to bus inspections.

    Among the worst Out of Service rates in the state: 
     - M.S.D. Warren Township at 29%
  •   - Lebanon Community Schools at 33%
      - M&M Bus Company (servicing Muncie Community Schools) at 37%
      - M.S.D. Lawrence Township at 40%
      - Illinois Central Bus Company (servicing Gary Community Schools) at 49%
  • How do that many school buses fail an annual state inspection?

    "It's a lack of preparation on our part. The buses should have been better prepared," admits Kevin Mest, chief operating officer for Illinois Central. "We should have done better. We're making plans to do better this year."

    He says some of the buses that failed last summer's state inspection were never intended to transport Gary school children and are no longer being used for the school district.

    But on a recent visit to Gary, 13 Investigates found many of the Illinois Central buses that failed the state inspection are transporting children to and from school.

    Bus 504, which was cited by state police for serious brake and steering problems, transports Kerance Jackson to the Banneker Achievement Center elementary school.

    Jackson's mother hadn't heard anything about the bus' troubled past.

    "Wow. That's terrible. I really just want to go snatch my son off the bus right now," said Keturah Jackson, after seeing a long list of Out of Service violations for the district's school bus contractor.

    Mest, who recently joined the bus company, says new management has been hired to ensure better compliance with state safety rules.

    "We learned some important lessons. We know our next inspection is coming in June and I am confident we're going to have a very strong inspection," Mest said.

    Warren Township Schools offered a vague statement suggesting it is taking action following its poor inspection this spring.

    "In response to the bus inspection data given to us by the Indiana State Police we are diligently looking at ways to improve upon our current maintenance practices and processes," wrote M.S.D. Warren Township media relations director Dennis Jarrett. He offered no specifics and did not respond to repeated requests by WTHR to explain why so many buses were placed Out of Service. He did, however, point out all of the school district's buses were eventually approved by ISP.

    Kids at risk

    It's a fact that poorly-performing school districts and bus companies like to point out after they suffer through a miserable inspection: buses placed out of service are not allowed to transport students until they are fixed, and many problems cited by ISP are fixed quickly.

    The problem is, most buses are only inspected once a year, and school districts know ahead of time when it's happening. Yet on inspection day -- the one day you would expect every Indiana school bus to be in the safest condition possible -- state police are still finding some school districts with 20-, 40-, even 50-percent of their buses that fail inspection.

    "I think it boils down to maintenance, or a lack thereof," said Kath, shaking his head. "And I wonder how those people still have their jobs and how the school and the school board is allowing it to go on .... They have to know, you're putting a child at risk."

    Some school districts -- like Lawrence Township -- admit their maintenance program is not working.

    "This is totally unacceptable," said Lawrence Township Schools operations director Rodger Smith, when WTHR asked him about his school district's 40-percent Out of Service rate. "We're going to change what we're doing and how we're doing things."

    Smith says since the district's embarrassing inspection in March, there is now a greater focus on fixing all problems on a school bus each time the bus comes to the maintenance garage for service. (In the past, buses were not subjected to full inspections on a regular basis by school mechanics.) But that new policy is unlikely to make a significant dent in the school district's bus
    maintenance woes. Smith says his transportation budget has been cut by more than a million dollars annually because of property tax caps that have hit schools hard.

    "I'm not saying it's an excuse but it's a pressure all school districts are moving to right now. A lack of budget within our transportation department… think about what kind of pressures that puts on us." 

    Lawrence Township Schools responded to the pressure by cutting back on bus mechanics. It used to have seven. Now it has only four mechanics to maintain 200 buses. (That 50:1 bus-to-mechanic ratio is much higher than other area school districts.) Some of those mechanics are angry.

    "They've cut back on everything," one of the mechanics told WTHR. Several current and former mechanics talked to 13 Investigates. All asked Eyewitness News to withhold their identity for fear of retaliation by the school district. But they are speaking out because they believe fewer mechanics is resulting in more safety problems and more danger on school buses.

    "Stuff is happening that shouldn't be happening," said an M.S.D. Lawrence Township mechanic. "Brake chambers bad. Tie rods bad … that's the stopping of the bus. Maybe they are saving a little money, but you can't just put kids at risk."

    Eyewitness News has found the number of buses ordered out of service for serious safety violations statewide has jumped 35% over the past 5 years. In 2008, the last time WTHR analyzed Indiana bus inspection statistics, 10% of school buses had been placed Out of Service by state inspectors. The current analysis of all statewide bus inspections shows 13.5% of inspected buses were ordered Out of Service from January 2012 through March 2013.

    "We do see a lot of it," Kath said. "It makes you scratch your head sometimes. Our job is to inspect the buses. It's not to be their maintenance department and to tell them what problems they need to fix. It can be frustrating."

    Nothing to hide

    Other school districts boast very low Out of Service rates. Their school buses seem to sail through state inspections.

    Last week, ISP inspectors completed an annual inspection on 39 Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson school buses in less than two hours. Only a single bus failed the inspection when a transmission fluid line burst as inspectors looked under the hood.

    "They do things the right way and you can tell that right away," Kath said. "Just about every one of their buses was approved."

    The district's superintendent says that's no coincidence.

    "We expect 100%," said Matt Prusiecki. "We're not waiting for problems to happen. We try to plan and prevent as opposed to respond and react. It's worked well for us."

    The school district has routinely maintained an Out Of Service rate between 2- and 7-percent.

    It has two mechanics for 39 buses, and that ratio allows for routine maintenance instead of only focusing on emergency repairs.

    While Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson permitted WTHR into its maintenance garage and granted full access to watch and videotape its annual inspections, many other school districts would not grant 13 Investigates any access to their facilities.

    "If they're doing things right, there should be nothing to hide," Kath said.

    Violations kept quiet

    So how will you know if school bus safety violations are up – and maintenance is down – at your child's school district … or if it's just the opposite?

    Chances are, you won't. (Actually you will if you keep reading.)

    School districts don't publish the information, and neither does Indiana State Police.

    ISP and the Indiana Department of Education began working to develop an online school bus inspection program in 2006. Back then, the state agencies told WTHR the program was supposed to provide parents access to bus inspection reports for their children's school buses. Seven years later, IDOE has pulled out of the project and ISP says it isn't sure if – or when – such a database will be ready for the public.

    "I wish I could give you a timeframe but I can't," said ISP Sgt. Dave Bursten.

    ISP has been working with a private company to establish a hand-held electronic inspection system. Compared to paper and pencil inspection forms, the new system has made school bus inspections far more efficient for state troopers. But the focus of the system has been to help inspectors -- not to make school bus records more accessible to the public.

    "Keep in mind, our goal here is not to create something for the public. That is a by-product. Our goal is to create a tool for conducting thorough, efficient, robust school bus inspections as we are required to do by state law," Bursten said.

    "Parents should see that" 

    Many parents, school officials, private bus companies, and even state police inspectors say more public access to school bus inspections is a good idea.

    "I would like to be told. I would definitely like to be told what's happening with the bus," said Keturah Jackson.

    "I as a parent want to know how my child's bus is maintained," agreed Trooper Kath.

    Illinois Central also favors heightened public access to inspection records and welcomes the idea of online reporting. "It was hard to even find the inspection results for our own company," Mest told WTHR. "We support full transparency and think it's appropriate to share full results."

    "I think parents should see that information. Of course, they want to know," added Mabry.

    Rick Pederson, transportation director for Center Grove Schools, says school districts should be on board, as well.

    "Parents have a right to know what their child is being transported on and what the condition of that vehicle is. If it was my child, I'd want to be certain that bus was safe before I put my child on that bus. Yeah, I think it's a good idea."

    That's why 13 Investigates has created an online school bus inspection tool. 
  • WTHR's searchable database includes information on every bus from every school district in Indiana. You'll find recent inspection data on public schools buses, private schools buses -- even daycare buses and after-school program buses, too.
    For the first time, it's all online and all in one place. Take a moment to check the buses in your school district, and to compare its Out of Service rate to other districts around the state.
  • Article Online:  http://www.wthr.com/story/22238574/13-investigates-uncovers-school-bus-safety-records




  •  
     
    School bus safety regulations in Georgia
    Courtesy of:  Tara Herrschaft

    EDISON, GA (WALB) -
    The school bus tragedy in Clay County raises questions about bus safety regulations.  Transportation officials in Lee County say they, along with all other public school systems in Georgia, have to follow strict state guidelines to make sure their precious cargo is safe.

    74 Lee County buses run every day, transporting children to and from school. And every 20 work days these buses are rotated into the shop to be examined carefully by a mechanic. 

    "We go through that bus from bumper to bumper. We check all lights, all gages, tires, tire rod ends.  We do everything that you possibly can see about that bus and put your hand on and pry to make sure it's working," said Ricky Canterbury, Lee County Schools Director of Transportation.

    The mechanic has a checklist he runs through and that paperwork is added to their records.  "Regular X means a mechanic has to look at it and repair it."

    Transportation officials say while this is the law for all Georgia school systems, this process also saves lives and money.

    "It's a preventive means as well as safety, because if you got $100 part fixing to tear up and you don't see it and when it tears up it takes a $2,000 part with it then we got a problem.  And plus, as I mentioned earlier, we're hauling precious cargo," explains Canterbury.

    The state also sends someone with the Department of Driver Services to conduct an assessment at every school system once a year, in addition to random visits. 

    "They got the right to come in here during any school year and pick out "x" number of buses random and go through them.  So we know they come one time, but we don't know when they're coming the other times and they can shut you down if you don't," said Canterbury.

    This entire process is put in place to prevent tragedies like the one on Tuesday in Clay County.  It's still unknown why that bus crashed, ejecting two 10 year-old girls. One of them was killed, the other remains in the hospital. 

    "It's a sad day, because even though this is Lee County, it doesn't matter if it's a north Georgia or south Georgia county.  It breaks my heart to see stuff like that.  And it brings up the question again about seat belts. A seatbelt would have probably saved that little girl," said Canterbury.

    One of many questions that remain is unanswered.

    "Right now you're safer without them you are with them. Or, from the money end, it would cost us a lot more to do it than it would cost us to lose. But at the same time you can't put a price on a child's life. So we're all a little tore up about what to do," said Canterbury.

    Ricky Canterbury says while a seat belt could have saved a life in this case, he believes it's safer not to have them because it makes it easier to evacuate small children if a bus were to catch on fire, or crash into a pond.

    Online:  http://www.walb.com/story/22197846/bus-safety-regulations-in-georgia

     
     
    Courtesy of:  Roberto Cruz  @ Poughkeepsie Journal

    Bus service for the Rhinebeck Central School District will be provided in a limited capacity this afternoon, a posting on the
    Rhinebeck Central School District website said. 

    High school and middle school bus routes 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, and 11 will be available, the posting said. At the elementary school, bus routes 22, 23, 24, 25, and 26 will be available. 

    School bus drivers who serve the Rhinebeck and Spackenkill school districts and the Dutchess Board of Cooperative Educational Services are once again on strike, protesting what they say are unsafe working conditions and abysmal
    employee turnover.

    Bus transportation to Rhinebeck schools this morning was not available in its usual capacity, a statement on the Rhinebeck Central School District website said. School officials advised parents to be prepared to provide transportation for their students this morning, leaving this afternoon’s bus service in question.

    Rhinebeck High School Principal Ed Davenport said from his vantage point, no bus transportation was provided to the high school this morning. He said school officials remain hopeful to have transportation available this afternoon, but  they are planning to deal with increased traffic if none is available. 

    Teamsters Local 445 business agent Lori Polesel says there will continue “to be unrest” from her union until Durham School Services, the contractor that provides bus transportation to the districts and Dutchess BOCES, addresses their concerns.


    “They continue to put profit over safety,” Polesel said.




    Article Online: http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/article/20130509/NEWS01/130509005/SCHOOL-BUS-EMPLOYEES-STRIKE-AGAIN-RHINEBECK-PARENTS-RESPONSIBLE-FOR-STUDENT-TRANSPORTATION