Many school districts are looking at the St. Paul, Minn., Public Schools' policy on misbehavior on school buses established in 1995. The policy lists unacceptable behavior and the consequences students face for misbehaving aboard a school bus. The purpose behind school districts developing such policies is that the school bus is an extension of the classroom, and the district is responsible for establishing policies to deal with reporting and follow up on behavioral and disciplinary issues.
St. Paul Model
The St. Paul model breaks down infractions into three categories based on severity: Class I, Class II, and Class III:
Students committing Class I offenses face loss of bus privileges for 60 to 90days and mandatory attendance at a Saturday safety class before the students are allowed to ride the bus again. The students' parents or guardians are also required to attend the safety class.
Under the Class II offenses, the school bus driver files a conduct report with the building principal who then applies the student code of conduct and takes appropriate action. Class II violations also carry the possibility of suspension of bus privileges and mandatory attendance at a Saturday safety class.
The punishment for a Class III offense ranges from a verbal warning to the filing of a bus conduct report with the building principal and appropriate disciplinary action being taken by that principal.
Some examples of misbehavior that would be part of such a policy include: a student moving from seat to seat while the bus is in motion; standing on the bus; fighting; sexual misconduct or sexual harassment; carrying a weapon on the bus; flashing a laser pointer light in the drivers' eyes (a new and very dangerous development) etc. Such offenses would be categorized by severity and consequences carried out.
Good conduct is expected of all bus-riding students while waiting for the bus and traveling to and from school or on school related activities and should be acknowledged and encouraged. Parents and/or chaperones should also be included in safety awareness and conduct expected of them on field trips or school related activities.
When developing such a policy, districts should consider meeting with the transportation director and school bus drivers to discuss the types of conduct that occur on school buses, rank them into the three categories, and develop the reporting and follow up procedures. The next step is to distribute the policy to students and parents so that everyone is aware of the conduct that is expected of bus-riding students and the consequences for failing to comply with the policy.
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