Problem kids in Texas be forewarned: Now your school bus driver has the power to discipline you, much like a teacher. Under a new law Gov. Rick Perry signed last week, bus drivers can send disruptive passengers to the principal’s office.
This spring, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte filed SB 1541, which aims to bolster the authority of school bus drivers to maintain safety and order on board by removing unruly students. The bill requires each school district’s code of student conduct to specify the circumstances in which students may be removed from a school bus, and it affirms that drivers may remove a student to maintain effective discipline, according to the Texas AFT.
The organization credits Sen. Van de Putte and the House author of companion bill HB 2367, Rep. Alma Allen, who shepherded this legislation to passage.
“Credit for sparking this legislative initiative goes to the president of Texas AFT’s Houston Educational Support Personnel local in Houston ISD, Wretha Thomas, and the members of her local. Effective testimony in support of the bill was provided by Karen Barnes, a bus-driver trainer and leader in our Education Austin local in Austin ISD,” AFT officials stated.
School bus drivers across the state lobbied lawmakers to pass the measure and are applauding its passage. Houston ISD drivers are especially relieved because now they have recourse in handling disruptive students.
Sometimes drivers would be punished for complaining about problem kids, stated Wretha Thomas, president of the Houston Educational Support Personnel Union that represents most HISD bus drivers.
“Instead of taking the student off the bus, they were just removing the bus driver off the route,” she said.
“We need this law,” said HISD bus driver Ruby Carter. “We’re just fed up with the bullying.”
A school district spokesperson said the law reinforces practices that are already in place.