20 Feb Safer School Buses for New Orleans Charters
It’s time for safer school buses for New Orleans Charters. Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s administration has been working on a plan to stamp out New Orleans school bus violations for some time now. Ever since Hurricane Katrina, the city’s public school system has become a loosely regulated charter school system, one where each charter management system is responsible for hiring its own school bus service.
On Feb. 8, the New Orleans City Council approved rules proposed by Mayor Cantrell’s administration that are designed to correct problems officials recently found on some buses that they said threatened children’s safety. The council passed a new ordinance to require school bus vendors and drivers to get CPNC for-hire licenses, receive city inspections, perform background checks on drivers and notify the city of where each school bus is stored when it’s not in use. Their drivers must wear ID tags and undergo background checks, and their buses will be routinely inspected. Violations will result in fines and suspension of driving privileges. The new rules also require proof that each bus is insured and covered under at least $1 million in general liability coverage, costing $20,000 to $30,000 per bus. These rules are expected to go into effect before the next school year.
The city will also take problem buses off the roads. The ordinance gives the city the right to cite bus firms instead of property owners when buses are illegally parked on private property.
Under the new ordinance, the city’s Ground Transportation Bureau will issue permits by next school year to each bus in a private company’s fleet and to each driver of a bus or any vehicle that shuttles children. Companies will receive the permits at no charge but will have to pay $150 annually to renew a license and $50 each for the two annual inspections required for each bus.