School buses to be treated as extension of classroom

School principals, not school bus drivers, will now be responsible for disciplining students who misbehave while riding the bus, after the School District 57 board of trustees adopted changes to the district's bus conduct policy on Tuesday.

Under the new policy, bus drivers are responsible for the supervision of students, and will report any misconduct to the student's principal or the School District 57 transportation administrator.

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"Once students board a school bus they become the responsibility of the (school district)," the report to the district board says. "Therefore, the (school district) regards a school bus as an extension of the classroom and all students are required to conduct themselves in accordance with the same standards of behaviour that have been established in the classroom."

Previously, school bus drivers had the power to suspend students from riding the bus for misconduct on the bus after issuing a verbal and written warning to the student for minor offences, and immediately for more serious offences including fighting; bringing drugs, alcohol or weapons on board; or vandalizing the bus.

"This is a very logical regulation. It makes good sense," trustee Sharel Warrington said. "This definitely moves the responsibility to the school district – where it should be."

Under the new policy, any disciplinary measures will be imposed by the school principal. Bus drivers can make students change seats and issue verbal warnings, but have no disciplinary powers. However, bus drivers will continue to have the authority to act in cases where student safety is at risk.

"In the event that students cause the bus to become unsafe due to their behaviour, or if there is a suspicion or confirmation or drugs or alcohol consumption, the bus may be returned to the school of origin and students may be dropped off in the care of a school principal or vice-principal," the new policy says. "However, in extreme circumstances, where student safety or damage to the bus is involved, the bus driver has the ultimate responsibility for the safety of the students and has the authority to refuse any student access to the bus."

The rules for student conduct on the bus remain largely unchanged, with the exception of adding vaping to the list of activities not allowed. In addition, eating or drinking on school buses may be allowed, if approved by the bus driver.

"I'm really glad about the addition of the vaping part," trustee Shuirose Valimohamed said. "Because students were really taking advantage of that, because it is not in our current policy."

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