Hold the Phone!

 A new federal rule prohibiting commercial drivers from using a hand-held cell phone while operating a commercial truck or bus went into effect  on January 3, 2012.  For us educationally minded individuals, the next logical question becomes does this new ban on hand-held phone use also apply to school bus drivers?   The answer as it so often is: it depends.  It depends on the school bus driver’s employer.

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Student transportation and constitutional rights

The case of Enright v. Springfield School District is a lesson in the important need for a quality program of training for bus drivers. The case resulted in a jury verdict upheld by the court against a school district and in favor of a seven year old student abused on a bus by older students. Liability against the school district was found because the school district did not train its driver and had policies and practices in place that made environment of the bus unsafe.

The school district owned and operated a bus that transported a 17-year old male student with emotional issues to an approved private school, a 14-year old male with learning disabilities to a private school, and a seven year old girl with Asperger’s syndrome to a private school. In short, the two boys engaged in sexualized conduct toward the girl that caused her significant trauma. Parents filed suit seeking relief via Section 1983 for violations of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act, the IDEA, and Fourteenth Amendment due process rights.

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