2007 Regular Session
To: Education; Appropriations
By: Senator(s) Albritton
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 37-41-1, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO DIRECT THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO ADOPT SCHOOL BUS SAFETY REQUIREMENTS WHICH INCORPORATE FEDERAL STANDARDS REGARDING THE USE OF COMPARTMENTALIZATION AND SEAT BELTS; TO DIRECT SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO COMPLY WITH SUCH SAFETY STANDARDS; TO AUTHORIZE THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO PROVIDE FUNDING FOR SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO INSTALL AND RETROFIT SEAT BELTS AND SAFETY EQUIPMENT ON SCHOOL BUSES; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 37-41-1, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-41-1. (1) The State Board of Education is authorized, empowered and directed to promulgate rules and regulations for:
(a) Setting standards for public school bus routes;
(b) Approving or disapproving plans for public school routes;
(c) Setting standards for public school buses;
(d) Setting standards for public school bus drivers;
(e) Formulating procedure for selecting public school bus drivers;
(f) Formulating courses of training for public school bus drivers and mechanics, and assist in administering and financing such courses;
(g) Providing operation procedure for public school buses to insure safety of pupils;
(h) Furnishing consultative supervision for the operation of county school bus garages, and approving plans for such garages and the proposed expenditure of transportation funds therefor;
(i) Formulating specifications for use in purchasing public school buses; getting bids on public school buses; equipment and supplies; and fixing prices based upon said bids which school districts may not exceed in purchasing said equipment;
(j) Formulating specifications for use by school districts in purchasing used school buses;
(k) Providing a system of records and reports for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of Sections 37-41-1 through 37-41-51, and providing the superintendent of schools with a sufficient supply of report forms;
(l) Conduct upon said buses; and
(m) The method by which, and the circumstances in which, any individual who is not a student scheduled to be a passenger upon that particular bus, a member of the public school administration or faculty, or a law enforcement official may obtain entry upon said buses.
(2) The State Board of Education is authorized, empowered and directed to promulgate rules and regulations setting safety standards for school buses which incorporate at a minimum, the recommendations of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as follows:
(a) For large school buses with a gross vehicle weight rating over ten thousand (10,000) pounds, crash protection for passengers shall be provided through compartmentalization, which requires that the interior of the bus provides occupant protection through strong, closely-spaced seats that have energy-absorbing seat backs;
(b) For small school buses with a gross vehicle weight rating under ten thousand (10,000) pounds, crash protection for passengers shall be provided through lap or lap/shoulder belts at all designated seating positions, and passengers shall be required to buckle these belts when the bus is in motion;
(c) All school buses for physically handicapped children shall be equipped with properly designed seat belts as required in Section 37-41-3.
(d) School bus safety standards issued under this paragraph shall be effective in the 2007-2008 school year for new school buses purchased after July 1, 2007. The State Department of Education shall provide funds for the proper seat belts and safety equipment on school buses, from funds appropriated therefor by the Legislature.
(3) (a) All rules and regulations adopted and promulgated by the State Board of Education relating to school bus drivers shall also be applicable to drivers of privately owned buses transporting public school children.
(b) All rules and regulations adopted and promulgated by the State Board of Education pursuant to the authority conferred by this section shall be spread at large upon the minutes of the State Board of Education and copies thereof shall be furnished to all school boards not less than thirty (30) days prior to the effective date of such rules and regulations.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2007.