On numerous occasions, school committees, school administrators, lawmakers, and the general public have requested information concerning pupil transportation services. The manual is intended to aid staff in the local education agencies in providing a safe, efficient, and economical pupil transportation system. It is a compilation of suggested guidelines based on solid research, pertinent statutes and regulations, and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education policies as they relate to pupil transportation.
We will try to keep this document current and complete.
Best wishes for a successful transportation program.
Robert V. Antonucci
Commissioner of Education
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
State statutes establish the responsibility of the School Committee to provide transportation services for students transported to and from home and school and to and from educational programs. With respect to students being transported, a written policy statement is required to provide the school committee, administrators, school bus contractors, students and parents with uniformly applied guidelines. Such a policy should be widely disseminated and clearly understood by all. This facilitates impartial administration and consistent operation, provides a convenient accessible statement of objectives of the system, and affords a better understanding of the relationship of the transportation operation to the educational system. A written policy statement also provides a framework within which the school committee and administrators can issue operating directives.
To ensure a successful transportation policy, certain goals must be established. The following points are suggested minimum goals to be used as a basis for your list.
It will be noted that these legal responsibilities are stated in rather broad terms. Since many questions often arise whose answers are not contained explicitly in the statutes, school committees must establish detailed policies within the framework of those established at the state and federal levels. Some other reasons for establishing policy are:
Policies will vary according to local conditions or situations, but there are a few general rules which should be followed. These include:
The number of policies should be limited. It is not possible to write a policy to cover every situation that might occur. Policies should be subject to review and evaluation at periodic intervals by board members, administrators and members of the faculty.
In establishing written committee policies, certain considerations should be incorporated into the planning, as a minimum. These include:
It is recommended that each school district have a system of accounting which is utilized to obtain essential data and records. Following is a minimum list of essential information which should be provided by a system of records and reports for school transportation.
Criteria in determining whether or not the program is economical and efficient:
The purpose of a transportation policy will ensure that each school committee offering student transportation services complies with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts General Laws and Regulations of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and Registry of Motor Vehicles pertinent to transportation of students, as well as govern any areas not covered by specific declaration of policy.
All children in grades kindergarten through six who reside more than two miles from the school they are entitled to attend and the nearest school bus stop is more than one mile from their residence and all children residing in regional school districts in grades kindergarten through twelve. Exceptions to this policy may be made when road conditions do not provide for the physical safety of the children and when the health of students make this service essential.
Bus routes are established under the direction of the superintendent in cooperation with bus contractors so as an authorized bus stop is available within a reasonable walking distance of the home of every student entitled to transportation, and that distance does not exceed one mile.
Bus routes are structured so the total time a student spends on the bus is minimal.
Authorized bus stops are located at convenient intervals in places where students maybe loaded and unloaded, cross highways, and await arrival of buses with the utmost safety allowed by road conditions.
The superintendent of schools is responsible for execution of transportation policy and regulations adopted to implement the policy.
Transportation contractors must submit a list of bus drivers and substitute drivers to the Superintendent of Schools for approval by the school committee.
Bus contractors are subject to all statutes of Massachusetts governing buses, drivers, inspections, and licensing.
Bus drivers are responsible for the safety of children riding to and from school. Bus drivers have full authority over the bus and its passengers in route to and from school and during loading and unloading.
A copy of the bus route should be placed in each bus prior to the beginning of school. Emergency numbers such as police, school, garage, hospital, etc., must be posted each bus. Drivers are expected to keep their buses clean at all times.
Any violations of the rules and regulations for student behavior on school buses must be reported at the end of each trip to the staff member in charge, who must obtain all pertinent information and report it to the school principal. The report should be forwarded to the school principal no later than the following day of the occurrence of the incident. The report will be returned to the staff member showing the action taken by the principal who in turn will show the bus driver what action has been taken.
Drivers must not remove any child from a bus as a disciplinary measure.
Bus drivers have no authority to appoint students as bus monitors and must not do so. If repeated misbehavior problems arise, the should report each incident to the designated authority.
Suspension of a student from riding the bus must be administered by the proper authority, usually the school principal.
School principals must administer punishment when rule infractions are reported. Reports must be prompt, and punishment should be administered as soon as possible after it has been reported. All punishments must be reported to parents and noted on the copy of the Bus Behavior Report, which is returned and shown to the bus driver.
In spite of all precautions, the possibility of accidents cannot be entirely eliminated. Drivers should be trained so, if any accidents do occur, they know how to meet the emergency. The following procedures are suggested to drivers:
To ensure that your school transportation program is operating efficiently, it is recommended that an assessment and evaluation of the program is done on a regularly basis. The following is a minimum list of essential information which can be used in designing an evaluation guide.
School Committee Policy
The school committee has adopted specific policies regarding student transportation. All policies are in writing form and include but are not limited to the following:
A separate transportation accounting system is in place and maintained which includes the following:
Parents and Students
Possible Steps To Help Reduce Transportation Costs
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education policy regarding the "measurable distances" provisions set forth in M.G.L. c.71, s. 68, is as follows:
The above definition of a "commonly traveled route" shall be used to determine and verify numbers of pupils being transported at least 2 miles from school, including instances where a school committee elects to transport pupils, because of hazardous/safety conditions, over a route other than a "commonly traveled route" as defined in our policy on "measurable distances." A public way is considered not open and accessible when a state (excluding Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) or federal agency has officially excluded school transportation vehicles from using the route. School transportation vehicles are not required to travel over nonpublic ways (c.90). A public way is adopted and registered as such in the city or town (c.81).
If the distance between a child's residence and the school the child is entitled to attend or the nearest school bus stop exceeds the distances set forth in M.G.L. c.71, s.68, and a school committee fails to provide transportation within two weeks after a parent or guardian has submitted a written request for such transportation, the parent or guardian may appeal to the Department in the following manner:
The following pupil transportation scheduling and routing examples are subject to state reimbursement and should be reviewed for safe, efficient and economical school transportation planning.
The distance in excess of 1-1/2 miles one direction from home to school and return is reimbursable under the provisions of Chapter 71, Sections 7A, 7B, 16C or Chapter 74, Section 8A.
August 29, 2003
The following is a partial summary of current statutory requirements in the Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.) as they pertain to pupil transportation services in the Commonwealth. The statutes listed include school committee responsibilities, educational program requirements, and reimbursement programs. Statutes should be consulted in their entirety.
Chapter 71, Section 6, Education in Out-of-Town High Schools.
Chapter 71, Section 37H, Publication of School Committee Rules and Regulations Relative to the Conduct of Teachers and Students.
Chapter 71, Section 47, Athletic Programs; School Organizations; Regulations.
Chapter 71, Section 48A, School Safety Patrols (Purchase of Traffic Safety Belts).
Chapter 71, Section 68. Duty of Towns to Maintain Schools; Pupil Transportation; School Building Committee Representation.
Chapter 71, Section 71A, Safety Stations on Highways.
Chapter 71B, Section 8. Transportation.
Chapter 74, Section 8A, Transportation of Students.
Chapter 76, Section 1. Regulation of School Attendance; Private School Transportation.
Chapter 76, Section 14, Island Children.
Last Updated: August 1, 1996
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906
Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370
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