Several states around the country enacted new laws that took effect at the start of 2017, with a few focusing on the school bus, including California’s SB 1072 that requires school buses to be equipped with child-reminder alarm technology.
Signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last year, SB 1072 was enacted in response to the 2015 death of 19-year-old Hun Joon “Paul” Lee, a student with severe autism who died after being locked inside a parked school bus during a heatwave.
Drafted by state Sen. Tony Mendoza, SB 1072—commonly known as the Paul Lee School Bus Safety bill—stipulates all school buses, youth buses and care motor vehicles need to be outfitted with alert systems that force bus drivers to manually disarm an alarm at the rear of the bus before exiting.
The bus driver in the Lee case had finished his route and locked the nonverbal student on the bus for seven hours with all its windows closed as temperatures that day reached 90 degrees. Lee attended the Sierra Adult School in Whittier, California, a city near Los Angeles.
The law also requires school districts to improve bus driver training to avoid similar situations that put students at risk. The alarm system needs to be installed by the 2018-2019 school year.
“No parent should fear that their child will not return home safely at the end of the day,” Mendoza told the LA Times.
Aside from improving bus driver training, school districts must also notify the Department of Motor Vehicles in all circumstances concerning students left on school buses.