California Senate Bill 1072, which would mandate the use of child check technology on buses throughout the state, unanimously passed the Senate and Assembly last week. It is now headed to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown for a signature.
State Sen. Tony Mendoza authored SB 1072, known as the Paul Lee School Bus Safety Law, in response to the death of Paul Lee, a 19-year-old student with autism who was left behind on a school bus during a Southern California heatwave last September. If Gov. Jerry Brown signs the bill into law by Sept. 30, child reminder systems would need to be installed in all school buses and school activity buses by the start of the 2018-2019 school year.
Aside from requiring the alarm systems, the bill would also require that drivers receive training in child-check safety procedures upon the yearly renewal of their school bus driver safety certificate. It would also impose penalties for bus drivers, school districts or contractors who knowingly transport students in a bus without a child reminder system, or in one where the system is not maintained or out of order.
The law would also direct the California Highway Patrol to provide rules for implementation, as well as a list of approved alarm systems and technicians qualified to install these, and grant school districts and bus contractors a three-month period to comply after the CHP issues its rules.
The bill contains no additional state funding or reimbursement to school districts for the systems.