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NASDPTS celebrates a milestone birthday as members head to Kansas City this month for annual industry meetings


T WRITTEN BY RYAN GRAY | RYAN@STNONLINE.COM


he year 1968 was a tumultuous one. Te assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and


Robert F. Kennedy. Te Tet Offensive and the escalating Vietnam War. Protests on college campuses. Protests at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City. It was also a time of great feats. Apollo 8 orbited the moon. One year earlier, research- ers at the University of California, Los Angeles had made their own historic yet earthly strides by publishing a seminal, first-ever report on school bus crash-worthiness. Te school bus industry set out on a new path. “In the 1950s, the state people would get together, but the 1967 UCLA tests really got things going,” recalled Dick Fischer, who at the time was a local director of transportation in Southern California and is now an industry safety consultant. He added that the school bus manu-


facturers at the time began implementing some of the recommendations ahead of the


first Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards that were developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and that went into effect in 1977. Before then, during the first half of the 20th century, student transportation opera- tions and knowledge had been largely rural, localized and unstandardized. Te 1948 National School Bus Conference, which is now called the National Congress on School Transportation, foresaw the need for greater information sharing and suggested the industry develop a group of meetings by geographical areas. Te Southeastern States Pupil Trans-


portation Conference (SESPTC) was then born, according to its published history. Te organization held its meeting four years later for representatives from 14 states who were charged with developing and overseeing stu- dent transportation rules and specifications. Similarly, an increasing number of state


directors across the U.S. who worked for departments of education or motor vehicles


62 School Transportation News • OCTOBER 2018


saw the need to organize and advocate for school bus standardization, remembered Paul Stewart, who at the time, worked for the National Safety Council and in 1980 became state director for West Virginia. Te first formal meeting of state direc- tors was held in 1967, when the National Education Association’s Rural Education Division hosted a meeting in Milwaukee. A year later, in November, NASPDTS was officially formed. It installed Pope Laird, of the Florida Department of Education and a member of SESPTC, as its first president. “NASDPTS’ main objective was


more improved school transportation by developing safety requirements,” said Stewart, who earlier this year celebrated his own milestone—a 100th birthday. “Some states had less requirements than others. Te goal was to improve scheduling, routing and safety across the board and across the country.” In 1968, the same year private school bus operators coalesced into the National School Transportation Association,


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