School Zone ~ School Bus Safety

By Superintendent Philip Pempin

With this article I would like to remind parents and the community about expectations for student behavior on Vermilion school buses.  A copy of the bus rules are provided to students and parents at the start of school, and are also available in the Student Handbook for each building.

School bus drivers have an extremely difficult job.  Each driver must pay attention to road and traffic conditions and comply with a variety of special safety procedures, all while maintaining a secure atmosphere inside the bus.  The State of Ohio Transportation Section has developed student behavior guidelines designed to minimize disruption and increase school bus safety.  Our drivers are expected to enforce these rules so that students can feel secure riding the school bus every day.

Some of the more frequent violations that we see are eating/drinking/chewing gum/littering; legs in aisles; arms, hands, or objects sticking out of the windows; sitting in an unassigned seat; standing while the bus is moving; violating bus stop rules, including moving outside the safety zone, repeatedly coming late to the bus stop, and getting on or off at an incorrect bus stop.

The following behaviors are considered to be extremely disruptive to the driver.  These behaviors create an unsafe environment not only for bus riders, but also for other vehicles:

  1. Disrespectful behavior such as bullying, hitting, punching, yelling, screaming, and failure to obey the driver’s instructions
  2. Inappropriate (vulgar) language or rude gestures to other students, drivers or the public
  3. Disruption at the railroad tracks (all students are required to be silent at railroad crossings)
  4. Inappropriate behavior, including, but not limited to, throwing items inside or outside the bus, using sprays on or near others, and vandalism of the bus or destruction of property belonging to others.

Our bus drivers, along with our principals, are authorized to strictly enforce the bus procedures and rules.  When there is an infraction, a progressive disciplinary system is in place with consequences that may include removal from the bus.  Discipline can range from one day off the bus for the first offense, up to and including expulsion from the bus for multiple offenses.

With a first violation, a letter is sent home to notify parents and seek help in correcting the behavior.  Students with repeat violations are referred to the school principal, who will make decisions to administer progressive disciplinary steps.   If any behavior is extreme in nature, an administrator or law enforcement officer can be dispatched to the site of the bus and the student may be removed immediately to alleviate a dangerous situation for all.

Safety continues to be the #1 priority of our Transportation Department.  We maintain a high standard of training and accountability for bus drivers and mechanics.  Our goal is to help our staff work with students, parents and administrators to provide drivers with as little disruption as possible as they navigate their buses throughout Vermilion and surrounding communities.  We know that everyone can appreciate the importance of expecting students to exhibit good behavior while on a school bus, and we appreciate the cooperation of parents and guardians in this critical aspect of the school day.

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