Bill introduced to end school bus overcrowding

Posted at 6:41 PM, Dec 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-17 18:41:23-05

7 Action News exposed how many schools across the state take advantage of a law that allows them to overcrowd buses at the beginning of the school year for four weeks. 

We obtained pictures and video of kids sitting on bus floors and packed four, five, or even six kids to one seat. Parents and kids voiced safety concerns.

Now our stories may lead to changes in the law. Rep. Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor) introduced legislation on Thursday that will require schools don’t fill buses beyond manufacturer guidelines year-round.

“There are laws dictating capacity on buses to manufacturers,” said Zemke. “Manufacturers build buses to meet those capacity requirements. We shouldn’t have another law that says they (schools) can exceed those requirements. It is ludicrous."

Rep. Zemke says he was surprised when the Michigan Department of Education voiced opposition to the legislation to him.

We called the Department of Education for comment. A spokesperson said it has a policy against speaking about draft legislation, as it is likely to change.

Why may the Department of Education be against this legislation?  It may be explained by what a spokesperson had to say in September when we asked why schools were allowed under the law to put more kids than manufacturers recommend on board.

“The concern was leaving kids at the side of the road until another bus came to pick them up,” said Ken Micklash, State Director of Pupil Transportation

Micklash explained that at the beginning of the school year enrollment often changes.

Representative Zemke says if schools plan properly, that won’t be the issue.

“We don’t want to cause a problem, but we also want to make it very clear that student safety is the most important thing,” said Zemke.

We want to know what you think about this law. Leave your comments below. 

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