THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234

 

TO:

The Honorable the Members of the Board of Regents

FROM:

James A. Kadamus

COMMITTEE:

EMSC-VESID

TITLE OF ITEM:

Proposed Amendment of the Regulations of the Commissioner Relating to Safety Regulations for School Bus Drivers, Monitors, Attendants and Pupils

DATE OF SUBMISSION:

May 28, 2004

PROPOSED HANDLING:

Approval

RATIONALE FOR ITEM:

Compliance with State Legislation

STRATEGIC GOAL:

Goals 1 and 2

AUTHORIZATION(S):

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

Attached is a proposed amendment of section 156.3 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education submitted for adoption as an emergency measure.  Supporting materials are available upon request from the Secretary to the Board of Regents.

 

The proposed amendment will implement Chapter 270 of the Laws of 2003 to apply school bus driver safety training instruction and testing requirements to drivers who operate transportation which is owned, leased or contracted for by private and parochial schools to the same extent as such requirements apply to drivers who operate transportation owned, leased or contracted for by public school districts.  The proposed amendment will be limited to nonpublic schools offering instruction in any or all grades, prekindergarten through twelve.

 

A Notice of Proposed Rule Making will be published in the State Register on June 16, 2004.  A Statement of Facts and Circumstances Which Necessitate Emergency Action is attached.  It is anticipated that the proposed rule will be submitted for adoption as a permanent rule at the September 2004 meeting of the Board of Regents.

 

            VOTED:  That section 156.3 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education be amended as submitted, effective July 1, 2004, as an emergency action upon a finding by the Board of Regents that such action is necessary for the preservation of the general welfare to ensure that individuals hired by private and parochial schools as school bus drivers may obtain the required instruction, training and certification in a timely manner consistent with statutory requirements.


AMENDMENT OF THE REGULATIONS OF THE COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION

Pursuant to Education Law sections 207, 305 and 3624 and Chapter 270 of the Laws of 2003

Section 156.3 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education is amended, effective July 1, 2004, as follows:

156.3  Safety regulations for school bus drivers, monitors, attendants and pupils. 

(a)  Definitions.  For purposes of this section:

(1)  A school bus driver shall mean any person who drives a school bus which is owned, leased or contracted for by a public school district [or a], board of cooperative educational services or nonpublic school for the purpose of transporting pupils. However, for the purposes of this section, the following shall not be considered to be school bus drivers:

(i)  .   .   .

(ii)  a driver of a suburban intercity coach or transit type bus, transporting pupils on trips other than between home and school, such as field trips, athletic trips, and other special transportation services; [and]

(iii)  a parent who transports exclusively his or her own children; and

(iv)  a volunteer driver for a nonpublic school who transports pupils on other than a regularly established route on an occasional basis.

(2)  A school bus shall mean every vehicle owned, leased or contracted for by a public school, [or] board of cooperative educational services or nonpublic school and operated for the transportation of pupils, children of pupils, teachers and other persons acting in a supervisory capacity to or from school or school activities.

(3)  .   .   .

(4)  .   .   .

            (5)  A nonpublic school shall mean a private or parochial school offering instruction in any or all grades, pre-kindergarten through twelve.

(b)  School bus driver and instructor qualifications.  (1)  .   .   .

(2)  .   .   .

(3)  Physical fitness.  (i)  .   .   .

(ii)  Each regular or substitute driver of a school bus owned, leased or contracted for by a school district, [or a] board of cooperative educational services or a nonpublic school shall be examined by a physician or nurse practitioner to the extent authorized by law and consistent with the written practice agreement pursuant to Education Law, section 6902(3), in accordance with the provisions of this subdivision.  The physical examination shall be reported immediately on forms prescribed by the commissioner to the chief school officer of the district.  The physical examination shall include, as a minimum, those requirements specified on the prescribed physical examination report.  The examining physician or nurse practitioner shall require the school bus driver to undergo any diagnostic tests that are necessary to determine whether the driver has the physical and mental ability to operate safely a school transportation conveyance.  Each school bus driver shall receive an annual physical examination, and each driver who is to be initially employed shall be examined within four weeks prior to the beginning of service. In no case shall the interval between physical examinations exceed a 13-month period.

(iii)  Each regular or substitute driver of a school bus owned, leased or contracted for by a school district, board of cooperative educational services or nonpublic school shall pass a physical performance test approved by the commissioner, upon recommendation of an advisory group of certified school bus driver instructors, at least once every two years.  Additionally, the test shall be administered to any driver following an absence from service of 60 or more consecutive days from his or her scheduled work duties.  In no case shall the interval between physical performance tests exceed 24 months.

(a)  .   .   .

(b)  .   .   .

(c) (1)  A school bus driver who is employed by a school district, board of cooperative [education] educational services, or contractor as of September 1, 1997 shall have until July 1, 2000 to take and pass the driver physical performance test.  All drivers hired by school districts, boards of cooperative [education] educational services, or contractors after September 1, 1997 shall be required to pass the driver physical performance test before they may transport pupils.

(2)  A school bus driver who is employed by a nonpublic school as of January 1, 2005 shall have until January 1, 2008 to take and pass the driver physical performance test.  All drivers hired by nonpublic schools after January 1, 2005 shall be required to pass the driver physical performance test before they may transport pupils.

(d)  School districts, boards of cooperative educational services, nonpublic schools or transportation contractors may apply to the commissioner for a temporary waiver to permit Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) certified 19A examiners, employed by that carrier, to administer the physical performance test to school bus drivers employed by that carrier.  Such waiver may be granted where it is established that there are insufficient certified school bus driver instructors on staff to administer the test in a timely manner.  Upon the issuance of such waiver, a certified school bus driver instructor's physical presence shall not be required during the administration of the test, provided that such testing is conducted under the general supervision of a certified school bus driver instructor who is employed by such board of education, board of cooperative educational services, nonpublic school or transportation contractor.  Such certified school bus driver instructor shall instruct the DMV certified 19A examiner in the proper administration of the physical performance test and shall review and approve the test results of all physical performance tests administered by the examiner.

(4)  .   .   .

(5)  Pre-service, safety training, and refresher training for school bus drivers.

(i)  Pre-service.  Each school bus driver initially employed by a board of education or transportation contractor subsequent to July 1, 1973, or initially employed by a nonpublic school on or after July 1,2004, shall have received at least two hours of instruction on school bus safety practices.  Each driver of a vehicle transporting pupils with disabilities exclusively who is initially employed subsequent to January 1, 1976, or initially employed on or after July 1, 2004 for nonpublic school bus drivers, shall have received an additional hour of instruction concerning the special needs of a pupil with a disability.

(ii)  (a) During the first year of employment, each driver initially employed by a board of education, board of cooperative educational services or transportation contractor subsequent to July 1, 1973 shall complete a basic course of instruction in school bus safety practices approved by the commissioner, which shall include two hours of instruction concerning the special needs of a pupil with a disability.

(b)  During the first year of employment, each school bus driver initially employed by a nonpublic school on or after July 1, 2005 shall complete a basic course of instruction in school bus safety practices approved by the commissioner, which shall include two hours of instruction concerning the special needs of a pupil with a disability.  Each school bus driver initially employed by a nonpublic school on or after July 1, 2004 and on or before June 30, 2005, shall complete such course within the first two years of such employment.

(iii)  .   .   . 

(iv)  .   .   .

(v)  Except as otherwise provided in clauses (a) and (b ) of this subparagraph, all training required in this subdivision shall be provided by, or under the direct supervision of a school bus driver instructor certified by the commissioner.  To qualify for certification as a school bus driver instructor (SBDI), individuals shall successfully complete a school bus driver instructor training and evaluation course taught by a certified master instructor.  The course shall be approved by the commissioner upon the recommendation of the commissioner's school bus driver instructor advisory committee, an advisory group consisting of at least seven certified school bus driver instructors appointed annually for such purpose by the commissioner.  Each person who applies for admission to this course shall be currently employed by a public school district, board of cooperative educational services, nonpublic school or private contractor who is currently providing pupil transportation services for a public school district, nonpublic school or board of cooperative educational services.  The SBDI course shall include but shall not be limited to the following content areas: planning and making presentations including lesson plans and objectives, school bus accident statistics and interpretation, effective communications, and evaluation.  Each such person shall possess a high school diploma or equivalent diploma and shall have completed the basic course of instruction in school bus safety practices. In addition, each such person shall have completed the Advanced New York State School Bus Driver Training Course or a Department of Motor Vehicles approved Point/Insurance Reduction Program.  To maintain certification, school bus driver instructors shall be required to attend the annual professional development seminar (PDS) approved by the commissioner upon the recommendation of the SBDI advisory committee, and taught by a certified master instructor.  The PDS shall provide refresher training for all SBDIs in presentation skills, lesson planning, school bus safety techniques, requirements and statistics.  The PDS shall provide SBDIs with training materials for the upcoming school year safety training campaign, including information which shall be conveyed to all school bus drivers in the next two driver refreshers.

(a)  .   .   .

[(b)  Upon application by a board of education, a variance may be granted from the requirements of this paragraph for the 1990-91 school year only, upon a finding by the commissioner that the services of an approved school bus driver instructor are not available to provide the required training.]

(vi)  .   .   .

(6)  Character requirement.  The driver of a vehicle for the transportation of school children shall be of good moral character and thoroughly reliable.  At the time of initial application and at such other times as the superintendent of schools, [or] district superintendent of schools, or nonpublic school chief administrator may determine, each applicant for approval for employment as a school bus driver shall furnish to the superintendent or administrator at least three statements from three different persons who are not related either by blood or marriage to the applicant pertaining to the moral character and to the reliability of the applicant.

(c)  School bus monitor and attendant qualifications.  (1)  .   .   .

(2)  .   .   .

(3)  Physical fitness.  (i)  .   .   .

(ii)  .   .   .

(iii)  Each school bus monitor or attendant of a school bus owned, leased or contracted for by a school district or board of cooperative educational services shall pass a physical performance test approved by the commissioner at least once every two years.  Additionally, the test shall be administered to any monitor or attendant following an absence from service of 60 or more consecutive days from his or her scheduled work duties.  In no case shall the interval between physical performance tests exceed 24 months.  Individuals employed by a school district, board of cooperative educational services or contractor as a monitor or attendant on July 1, 2003 shall have until July 1, 2004 to take and pass a physical performance test. Individuals hired as a monitor or attendant after July 1, 2003, must take and pass a physical performance test before they may assume their duties. 

(a)  .   .   .

(b)  .   .   .

(c)  .   .   .

(4)  .   .   .

(5)  .   .   .

(d)  .   .   .

(e)  .   .   .

(f)  .   .   .

(g)  .   .   . 


PROPOSED AMENDMENT OF SECTION 156.3 TO THE REGULATIONS OF THE COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION, PURSUANT TO EDUCATION LAW SECTIONS 207, 305 AND 3624 AND CHAPTER 270 OF THE LAWS OF 2003

STATEMENT OF FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES, WHICH NECESSITATE EMERGENCY ACTION

The proposed amendment is needed to conform the Commissioner's Regulations to the provisions of Education Law section 305(34), as added by Chapter 270 of the Laws of 2003.   Education Law section 305(34) requires the Commissioner of Education to promulgate regulations which apply school bus driver safety training instruction and testing requirements, prescribed by Education Law section 3624, to drivers who operate pupil transportation which is owned, leased or contracted for by private and parochial schools to the same degree as such requirements apply to drivers who operate pupil transportation which is owned, leased or contracted for by public school districts.  Consistent with the statute, section 156.3 has been revised to apply the training and testing requirements currently in place for school bus drivers employed by or for public schools to those school bus drivers employed by private and parochial schools.  Chapter 270 of the Laws of 2003 becomes effective on July 1, 2004. 

            Emergency action to adopt the proposed amendment is necessary for the preservation of the general welfare in order to conform section 156.3 of the Commissioner's Regulations to the provisions of Education Law section 305(34), as added by Chapter 270 of the Laws of 2003, so that individuals hired by private and parochial schools as school bus drivers may obtain the required instruction, training and certification in a timely manner consistent with statutory requirements.

It is anticipated that the proposed amendment will be presented to the Board of Regents for adoption as a permanent rule at the September 2004 meeting of the Board of Regents, which is the first scheduled meeting after expiration of the 45-day public comment period mandated by the State Administrative Procedure Act.