Senators Unveil New School Bus Safety Proposals

Martin J. Golden

April 02, 2007

State Senator Martin Golden (R-C, Brooklyn) and State Senator Serphin Maltese (Queens) today announced that they are introducing two bills designed to protect the safety and security of children who ride school buses. The first bill would require placement of video monitoring systems on school buses statewide, and the second would prohibit individuals with a history of certain serious crimes from operating school buses.

In 2006 55,000 school buses transported 2.3 million children daily in New York State, over 2 million miles.

“School buses carry the world’s most precious cargo, and we need to ensure that they provide a safe and secure environment for our kids,” said Senator Golden. “New Yorkers place more than 2 million children on the school bus each morning, and we want every one of these kids to arrive safely at their destination. The recent Daily News investigation clearly demonstrated that our school transportation system needs to be reformed so that we can keep our children safe and secure when they ride the bus.”

“It is absolutely appalling to me that convicted murderers, rapists and even kidnappers can slip through a loophole in the law and become school bus drivers,” said Senator Serphin R. Maltese (Queens), a former Queens Assistant District Attorney and Deputy Chief of the Homicide. “Parents have the right to expect that their children will be safely brought to and from school, yet it is clear that is not always the case. We must close these loopholes immediately.”

Cameras on School Buses: To help combat instances of sexual abuse and violence committed against children on school buses, this bill would require school districts statewide to install video monitoring cameras on each bus used for the transportation of students. Under the legislation, which provides for a three year phase-in period, the State will provide reimbursement to local districts based on the current transportation aid formula.

Prohibiting Anyone Convicted of Certain Crimes from Operating a School Bus: Currently, individuals with a history of crimes against children can operate a school bus if the crime happened more than 5 years ago.

The second bill would close this loophole so that individuals convicted of certain serious and violent felonies are prohibited from operating a bus. Under current law, the following crimes do not automatically disqualify an individual from being hired as a school bus driver:

> Murder
> Kidnapping
> Rape; and
> Child Sexual Assault