School Bus Driver Training

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busBy Terry Rogers

After the recent school bus accidents in both Baltimore and Tennessee, parents may question how the bus drivers who transport students in Milford are trained. According to Paul Walmsley, Director of Personnel at Milford School District, the district follows all state requirements to initially qualify drivers.

“The Milford School District follows all state requirements in terms of initial qualifications that are required to become a bus driver,” Mr. Walmsley said. “The Milford School District works collaboratively with the bus contractors to make sure that these initial qualifications are met by all bus drivers.” Alison May, Public Information Officer for the Delaware Department of Education, says that drivers go through a process before driving a bus with students on board.

Ms. May says that a driver must complete school bus driver classroom training which is valid for up to one year. Drivers must submit to a pre-employment drug test, a child protective registry check, submit a criminal background affidavit and submit to State Bureau of Investigation fingerprint for state and FBI criminal background checks. Potential drivers must also submit a bus driver physical with a TB screening and must complete Certified Delaware School Bus Driver (CDSBD) Training. Effective July, 2015, drivers with a Commercial Learner’s Permit are prohibited from driving a school bus with passengers other than permitted under that permit.

“The initial training consists of 12 hours of formal classroom instruction with the state trainer and six hours of behind-the-wheel training with a Certified School Bus Driver Trainer,” Ms. May said. “In addition, each district may require and provide more training. We also require that all drivers, except those that have just completed initial training, must complete four hours of inservice training each year. If the driver does not complete the required training, they are restricted from driving the following year or until the training requirements have been completed.”

Bus drivers are also required to submit an annual physical report to the district. The State of Delaware School Bus Driver Physical mirrors the Federal Delaware Department of Transportation physical, although the Delaware physical has higher standards for hearing and are more restrictive for individuals who are diabetic. Drivers who travel across state lines, like those that provide field trip transportation, must also be DOT certified which requires a DOT physical every two years. Drivers who do not cross state lines are not required to provide a DOT physical form.

“Milford School District contacts the appropriate bus contractor well in advance of the expiration of a physical examination so that the driver has plenty of time to renew the physical before it expires,” Mr. Walmsley said. “We work collaboratively with the bus contractors to make sure that all qualifications are met by bus drivers.”

Mr. Walmsley said that Milford has been fortunate that there have been very few instances of unsafe driving. When unsafe practices are discovered, the district works with the contractor to correct the issue and to ensure the safety of the students. Parents who feel their child’s bus driver is driving in an unsafe manner should contact the Transportation Office at 302-424-6476 or reach out to the administration of the school their child attends.

“The Milford School District has enjoyed a long, positive relationship with all our contractors and drivers,” Mr. Walmsley said. “Student safety on buses is of the utmost importance. All Milford School District busses are now equipped with cameras. These cameras can help identify potential safety concerns on and around the bus. The Milford School District just completed bus safety evacuations with all of the students who ride busses. There will be another round of bus evacuations in the spring. The Milford School District appreciates the dedication and commitment to student safety from all of the drivers and contractors.”

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