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 Can you look in the mirror and truthfully say you check the bus, aisle by aisle, at the end of each and every route?


Technology Mindset


INDIANA LAW POSES CHALLENGES TO DEVELOPING FULL STATISTICAL PICTURE OF INCIDENTS INVOLVING CHILDREN LEFT ON BUSES WRITTEN BY ERIC WOOLSON


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est efforts, best practices and man- datory reporting laws can reduce incidences of children accidentally left on a school bus at the end of


a run, but they still won’t eliminate the pos- sibility of human error, an Indiana official acknowledged. “Every situation is different, but any time


you’re dealing with human beings, mistakes get made. Tat’s never a satisfying answer for the public but it’s the only answer we have,” said Mike LaRocco, director of school transportation for the Indiana De- partment of Education. LaRocco explained that the state’s 2009


law requires districts to report incidents of children left on buses. School superinten- dents or their designees — typically the district’s transportation director — must forward information to LaRocco’s depart- ment. Sixty-nine incidents had been report-


14 School Transportation News May 2013


ed at this report since July 1 of that year. “Tere was a lot of anecdotal reporting of kids being left behind, almost on a weekly basis,” LaRocco added. “By putting the law in place, we haven’t solved the problem, but we do know what the numbers are. Frankly, I was surprised at how high the numbers were.” He added: “You can’t write a law that is


going to eliminate the problem. You could make it as stringent as you want and say there will be a death penalty (for drivers who leave a child on a bus) penalty, but there are still going to be mistakes because you’re dealing with humans.” While the measure has provided more


comprehensive data, critics contend the Indiana law isn’t tough enough because dis- tricts don’t face harsh penalties for failing to report incidents. Opponents also argue that the law lacks intended transparency because it neither requires districts to detail how


long a child is left unattended nor does it mandate that incidents be posted online. To view the reports, a request for information to the Indiana Department of Education is required first. Te bill’s co-sponsors, state Rep. Robert Behning and state Sen. Tom Wyss, were un- available for comment, but Behning recently told WRTV in Indianapolis that he is open to amending the law. For a statewide system that delivers 1.3


million children to and from school each day of the 180-day school year — not counting field trips, sporting events and summer courses — roughly 20 incidents out of 240 million child trips may be an infini- tesimal figure. But LaRocco said transpor- tation professionals must go to even greater lengths to reduce such episodes. LaRocco, who noted that school buses are the safest ground transportation in the


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