The Office of Educational Management Services issues the
following policy statement on behalf of the New York State Education Department
Of utmost concern to the New York State Board of Regents, Commissioner of Education, Senior Deputy Commissioner For P-16 and Deputy Commissioner For Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities is the safety of the 2.3 million school children transported to school each day. To that end the Department, in accordance with State Education Law, has developed uniform and comprehensive safety training programs for school bus drivers, monitors, attendants and students. In an effort to strengthen and expand on these training programs, the Department will immediately respond to and assess each pupil transportation fatality.
Pupil transportation is provided by school districts and by private transportation companies who enter into contracts with school districts to transport students. Pupil transportation may also be provided by private and parochial schools. Education Law section 3624 and 305.34 authorize and direct the Commissioner of Education to apply school bus safety practices instruction and training requirements to school bus drivers.
In the event of a pupil transportation fatality, that is a result of a school bus accident or related to an incident that occurs on a school bus, school districts and nonpublic schools must notify the Department immediately at (518) 474-6541 or firstname.lastname@example.org. In the event the fatality is caused by a school bus accident, the Department’s State Director of Pupil Transportation Services and its consultant will seek assistance and coordination from the public school district or, in the case of a private or parochial school, the chief administrator of the school, to collect and obtain information on the accident. Education Law Section 215 empowers the Commissioner of Education to require any reports or information from school districts he deems necessary, through the Department’s State Director of Pupil Transportation Services to assess a pupil transportation fatality. In the event that a school district or nonpublic school does not cooperate by providing the requested information or providing it on a timely basis, Education Law Section 215 provides that the Board of Regents may suspend the charter of any of the rights and privileges of such school district or nonpublic school, including the withholding of State Aid.
Specifically, the following information is the type of documentation the Department may seek as part of its assessment:
- Basic facts of the event
- Location of the event
- Vehicle action before and after the event
- Vehicle damage and other physical damage
- Environmental factors at the time of the accident
- Significant physical evidence at the scene
- MV104F report of accident, police reports, news reports
- Talk to witnesses including school bus driver
- Review all school bus driver licensure, hiring, training, testing and medical records
- Passengers on the vehicle
- School vehicle information, private carrier information
- Route information
- Emergency response
- Interviews of district staff, contractor staff
- Possible contributing factors
- Investigators’ opinions as to event probability
- Recommendations for training
The Accident Investigation sub-committee of the Commissioner’s School Bus Driver Instructor Advisory Committee will review the information submitted and make recommendations to the Department for enhancement of the School Bus Driver Safety Training Program. Information and documentation collected is for the purpose of assessing, strengthening and expanding on the safety training programs for school bus drivers, monitors, attendants and students. No opinions will be issued in any reports as to the cause of the accident.