UNION COUNTY — During this week’s meeting of the Union County Board of School Trustees, Jeff Stribble, Director of Personnel and Student Services, presented a copy of revised procedures to follow any district bus accidents.
In March, a local school bus driver had an accident while driving a bus full of students to school, striking a tree. The driver was charged with driving too fast for conditions. All of the students were offered medical treatment at Wallace Thomson Hospital. Six students were transported to the hospital by ambulance, while another 16 were transported in another school bus. None of the injuries were life-threatening.
The same bus driver was involved in another accident — less than 12 hours after the first — during which the bus was empty except for himself. The bus struck another car.
During Monday’s school board meeting, Stribble distributed copies of the following revised procedures:
Bus Accident/Emergency Procedures
• Remain calm and call 911 immediately.
• Notify the transportation office and district office.
• Maintain order and care for the immediate needs of students to the extent possible.
• Record a list of students on the bus and where each student is seated.
• Do NOT let any student off the bus unless it is safer to exit the bus than to remain seated.
• Do NOT allow any student to leave or be taken from the accident scene unless approved by a school official.
• Notify appropriate district staff of any accidents or incidents immediately.
• Notify the county bus shop.
• Arrange a district vehicle to transport students from the accident scene.
• Notify the schools and coordinate a plan with the building administrator to notify parents.
• Following any type of bus accident, the district will immediately suspend the drive for a minimum of one day pending the outcome of the investigation by the district.
• If the bus driver receives a citation under state or local law for a moving traffic violation arising from the accident OR if there is a total of $500 or more in damages, the district will:
— Conduct alcohol and controlled substance tests as soon as practicable AND
— Immediately suspend the driver for a minimum of one day pending the outcome of the investigation by the district.
• Notify the school board regarding the accident or incident.
• The district will conduct an investigation of the accident to determine if the accident was “preventable” or “non-preventable.” During this investigation, the driver may be required to undergo a physical examination or to submit cell phone records. Failure to comply with the investigation may result in a recommendation for termination.
• A “non-preventable” accident involves an act that is beyond the control of the driver. Examples might include: weather, road conditions, or wild animals. If the accident was “non-preventable,” a statement to that effect shall be included in the driver’s personnel file and the driver will not be subject to disciplinary action. The district will determine a time frame to return the driver back his or her job functions.
• A “preventable” accident is one in which a reasonable bus driver should have been able to avoid. In the event that the accident is determined to be “preventable,” then disciplinary action may include, but is not limited to, any one or more of the following:
— A written letter of warning and/or reprimand
— Suspension of employment
— Termination of employment