(Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 06, 2014 11:45 AM
Why does the Calcasieu Parish School Board require substitute school bus drivers to be certified to drive the school buses but doesn’t require substitute teachers to be certified to work in the school system?
State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education rules require school bus drivers to undergo certification. But BESE has set no criteria for the hiring of substitute teachers, leaving that for districts to decide.
School system spokeswoman Kirby Smith said principals in Calcasieu schools “make every effort to employ certified substitute teachers when possible.” But she noted that certified teachers in general are in short supply in Louisiana.
Among the minimum requirements for school bus drivers, according to Title 28 of the Louisiana Administrative Code:
Applicants must be at least 21 years old.
They must submit to fingerprinting and a criminal background check.
They must have good driving records.
Applicants’ records over the previous five years can’t include convictions for DWI, drug crimes, leaving an accident scene or “any felony involving the use of a motor vehicle.”
They must have a commercial driver’s license that features passenger and school bus endorsements.
They must pass physical and eye exams.
They must pass an alcohol and drug screening.
“Initial applicants must complete the 44-hour pre-service phase of the school bus driver training program which includes 30 hours of pre-service instruction …, four hours of vehicle familiarization, and 10 hours of on-the-bus training.”
“School bus drivers, including substitute drivers and activity drivers, must complete eight hours of in-service training within a two-year period. The eight hours of training may be provided in four hour annual in-service training opportunities each year.”
The 30 hours of pre-service instruction mentioned above includes the following subjects:
First aid — 4-8 hours.
Drug and alcohol awareness policy and testing procedures — 2 hours.
National Safety Council bus driver defensive driving course — 6-8 hours.
Department of Education school bus driver instructional program — 6-8 hours.
Assertive discipline and passenger management — 1-2 hours.
Transporting disabled students — 1-2 hours.
Federal and state laws and regulations, local ordinances, and state and local policies on school bus transportation — 2-4 hours.
State and local reporting procedures — 2 hours.
The Informer answers questions from readers each Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. It is researched and written by Andrew Perzo, an American Press staff writer. To ask a question, call 494-4098 and leave voice mail, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.