Trouble Makers on the Bus
Senate Bill 1541 which was passed in the most recent Texas legislative session created a new law giving Texas school bus drivers the ability to more effectively protect the safety of their riders by authorizing the use of disciplinary action. The new law establishes requirements for school districts in Texas to modify their student code of conduct to include the repercussions that occur for being removed from a school bus for disciplinary reasons. The law also gives bus drivers the ability to remove trouble making students and send them directly to the principal’s office, whereby the principal may act as stipulated in the new district code of conduct. According to a story posted on aft.org (American Federation of Teachers), poor student behavior on the school buses in some routes had become a real serious safety problem for all the passengers. When an incident would occur, the students responsible for the problem were not being held accountable since they did not perceive the bus driver to be on the same level as a teacher from a disciplinary perspective. The schools and principals were failing to hold students accountable and in many cases, the school personnel would hold the bus drivers ultimately responsible and punish them instead of the students by cutting routes and shortening their drive times.
Greater Authority for Improved Bus Safety
After numerous attempts to bring these safety issues to school official’s attention and empty promises to provide satisfactory remedies, bus drivers in Houston tried other means to get help. They staged rallies, and held news conferences to shed light on this serious issue. As a result Senate Bill 1541 was passed. “I want to give a shout-out to all our bus drivers, aides and all the other support personnel here in Houston for the job they did, not only in getting the law passed but in performing their duties under pressure. I’m proud of the bus drivers because they’ve been getting the kids home safely,” said Wretha Thomas, President of the Houston Educational Support Personnel. Only time will tell if providing bus drivers with more disciplinary authority will improve student conduct.