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Kentucky House passes school bus behavior bill after student misconduct prompts bus driver sickout

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The Kentucky House passed a bill Friday aimed at curbing unruliness on school buses by requiring student and parental buy-in to transportation policies and setting clear consequences for misbehavior.

The measure sailed through the House on a 93-1 vote to advance to the Senate. Supporters said the goal is to offer relief to beleaguered bus drivers by setting expectations for students and parents.

Misbehavior on school buses was termed a statewide issue, but the House discussion focused on Kentucky’s largest school system, in Louisville. In November, the district was forced to cancel nearly 100 routes after bus drivers organized a sickout and 143 called off work, with student behavior cited as among their biggest concerns, the Courier Journal of Louisville reported.

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Setting accountability is crucial to getting the problem under control, Republican Rep. Kevin Bratcher said.

“Accountability — what happens when you get so far out of line that you’re stopping a school bus from operating,” he said. “You’re causing the school bus driver to quit their job.”

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The bill would require local school boards statewide to adopt a policy outlining what’s expected of students riding school buses and the consequences for failing to meet those standards.

Students hurry off of a school bus at Carter Traditional Elementary School on January 24, 2022, in Louisville, Kentucky. The Kentucky House passed a bill on Mar. 1, 2024, designed to reduce bad behavior on school buses after bus drivers organized a sickout in November. Student behavior was among their biggest concerns. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

“Drivers have a huge responsibility, and we should respect and address concerns thoroughly,” said Republican Rep. Emily Callaway, the bill’s lead sponsor.

In setting guidelines, boards would work off a model policy developed by the state education department.

Students and parents would have to sign a document acknowledging the policy each school year, and failure to do so could be grounds for revoking bus-riding privileges.

Each district’s policy would also establish procedures for investigating complaints and protecting those who bring them from retaliation. Severe or repeated misconduct could also lead to a loss of bus-riding privileges.

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“We must be sure that if a student puts him or herself, other riders or the driver in danger, the driver can act appropriately, swiftly and effectively,” Callaway said. “This policy allows for that discretion.”

District policies would provide for expeditious reviews of driver complaints about student misbehavior, and drivers would be allowed to be heard during disciplinary procedures. They must also be notified of the outcome of disciplinary actions. If a driver continues to feel unsafe transporting a student, the driver would be allowed to opt out of transporting that student.

Source: Fox News

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