§ 2901 Regulations governing design and operation of school bus.
(a) The Secretary of Education, with the advice of the Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles, shall adopt and enforce regulations not inconsistent with the motor vehicle laws of this State to govern the design and operation of all school buses used for the transportation of school children, whether such buses be owned and operated by any public school district or privately owned and operated under contract with the Department or any public school district in this State. Such regulations shall by reference be made a part of every contract entered into by the Department or any school district for the operation of a school bus. Every school district, its officers and employees, and every person employed under contract by the Department or a school district to furnish or operate a school bus shall be subject to the regulations. The Department may conduct a criminal history background check pursuant to the procedures set forth in Chapter 85 of Title 11 for the purposes of employment or contractual employment of any school bus driver.
(b) The regulations adopted relating to the award of school transportation contracts shall provide as follows:
(1) A school transportation contract may be awarded to a party contingent upon approval of the local board and the Department of Education. Such award may be made only after notice is provided to all interested persons by means of a notice published in at least 2 Delaware newspapers of general circulation.
(2) A local board of education must approve the awarding of a transportation contract to a party based on the following criteria: financial stability, insurability, record of service in that or another school district, if applicable, and personal and/or business resumé including references. A local board may use a lottery system to select from among the qualified applicants.
(3) No contract shall be deemed effectively awarded until said award is approved by the local board of education and the Department of Education.
36 Del. Laws, c. 10, § 91B; 40 Del. Laws, c. 38, § 7; Code 1935, § 5631; 48 Del. Laws, c. 119, § 1; 14 Del. C. 1953, § 2901; 70 Del. Laws, c. 59, § 2; 71 Del. Laws, c. 180, § 139; 73 Del. Laws, c. 252, § 8; 76 Del. Laws, c. 226, §§ 1, 2, 4; 77 Del. Laws, c. 312, § 1.;
§ 2902 Violation of regulations; compliance clause in contracts; penalty.
Any officer or employee of the Department of Education or of any school district who violates any of the school bus regulations or who fails to include an obligation binding a contractor to comply with such regulations in any contract executed by the officer or employee on behalf of a school district shall be guilty of misconduct and subject to removal from office or employment.
§ 2903 Breach and cancellation of contract.
Whoever, being the operator of a school bus under a contract with the Department of Education or any school district, fails to comply with any school bus regulation adopted by the Department shall be guilty of breach of contract and the operator's contract shall be cancelled, after notice and hearing, by the responsible officers of the school district or the Department.
§ 2904 Minimum insurance coverage requirements.
All buses operated by the Department of Education, by any public school district or by any person under contract with the Department of Education or a school district for the purpose of transporting school pupils either to or from school or for any other purpose under the jurisdiction of any school authority shall be covered by insurance to at least the following extent:
(1) Bodily injury coverage, including passenger hazard of:
a. $5,000 for the injury or death of any 1 person; and
b. Total coverage of either $100,000 or an amount equal to $5,000 plus $2,500 times the rated capacity of the bus for the injury or death of any number of persons in any 1 accident; and
(2) Medical payment coverage of $1,000.
§ 2905 Transportation of students of nonpublic, nonprofit elementary and high schools.
The Department of Education shall make rules and regulations concerning the transportation of pupils in nonpublic, nonprofit elementary and secondary (high) schools in this State. Such rules and regulations shall provide for at least the following:
(1) All rules and regulations relative to pupil transportation to nonpublic, nonprofit schools shall be the same as those applicable to public schools;
(2) Such rules and regulations shall limit transportation of pupils in nonpublic, nonprofit schools to the elementary and secondary schools, except as provisions of this title may assign such transportation responsibility to the Department of Education on behalf of pupils enrolled at other levels in a public school system;
(3) Pupils enrolled in nonpublic, nonprofit schools shall only be entitled to transportation within the described boundaries of a public school district and not beyond those boundaries.
§ 2906 Transportation of pupils to special schools.
The State shall fund school districts that operate special schools for the trainable, hearing impaired, orthopedic or other special school serving students from 1 or more school districts.
§ 2907 Safety requirements for public school buses.
No rule or regulation made by the Department of Education under this chapter shall preclude the use of district school buses or state school buses 14 model years old, provided such buses meet safety requirements and are approved by the board of education named in the contract. There shall be no capital allowance provided for the contractor other than that provided for in the transportation formula for school bus contracts using the schedule for the model year of the bus used.
§ 2908 Renewal of transportation contracts; transfer; letters of commitment.
(a) When a transportation contract is due to expire for a reason other than the fact that the bus described in said contract is of such vintage that it can no longer be used to transport pupils, a renewal of said contract shall be first offered to the school bus contractor who is party to the expiring contract. In the event that a contractor does not wish to renew the contract, said contract shall be opened to all other interested persons in that area by means of notice published in at least 2 Delaware newspapers of general circulation.
(b) If no parties can be found to assume the responsibilities of contracts expiring pursuant to this section, the department or agency responsible for the transportation of public school pupils shall furnish the transportation previously afforded under the expiring contract.
(c)(1) A school transportation contract may be transferred from a contractor to another party contingent upon approval of the local board of education. In the event that a transfer is proposed by the current contractor, the advertising requirement contained in subsection (a) of this section shall not apply.
(2) A local board of education may disapprove the transfer of a transportation contract to another party only for just cause. Just cause shall be limited to the following criteria: Financial stability, insurability, record of service in that or another Delaware school district, and personal and/or business resume including references.
(3) If the school board decides to reject the prospective contractor, it shall notify that contractor of its decision and provide reasons why that contractor is not acceptable to the district. This discussion may be held in a closed session and the results and reasons shall be disclosed only with the approval of the proposed contractor. In the event that the district rejects the proposed contractor, the current contractor shall have the following options:
a. Continue to operate the bus; or
b. Give up the contract at the end of the year or sooner if allowed by the district; or
c. Find a new contractor which will meet the criteria.
(4) In the event the contractor cannot reach agreement with another party which meets the criteria and is acceptable to the school district, the district may use the process identified in subsection (a) of this section to find a new contractor. In the event that the bus associated with the transportation contract is less than 7 years old and still on the depreciation schedule in the transportation formula, the district shall require that the new contractor make an offer to purchase the bus of the current contractor at least at fair market value as described in a national publication. It shall not be mandatory for the current contractor to accept this offer.
(5) No contract shall be deemed effectively transferred until said transfer is approved by the local board of education and the Department of Education.
(d)(1) The Department of Education is authorized to obtain from all contractors currently providing pupil transportation a letter of commitment to provide such service for the following school year. Such letters shall be signed by the contractor and shall legally bind the contractor to provide pupil transportation service in the following school year contingent upon the enactment into law of the succeeding fiscal year's budget appropriation act. A contractor shall not be bound by its letter of commitment should the final budget appropriation act include an inflation factor for the school transportation formula that is less than the inflation factor included in the Governor's proposed budget presented in January of that year.
(2) Failure to sign a letter of commitment shall be interpreted to mean that the contractor does not wish to continue providing pupil transportation services and that an alternative provider shall be found to assume the responsibilities of the existing contractor for the next school year.
(3) The letter of commitment shall be considered an offer of renewal as referenced in subsection (a) of this section. Subsection (b) of this section shall apply to contracts that expire due to the failure of a contractor to sign a letter of commitment.
(4) The Department of Education is hereby authorized to obtain letters of commitment on or before August 1, 1991, for the school year 1991-1992. In all subsequent years the Department of Education is authorized to obtain letters of commitment on or before May 1.
§ 2909 Transportation of certain pupils.
Each local board of education shall adopt and enforce rules and regulations whereby a parent or guardian may elect to waive bus transportation for that parent's or guardian's student to and from school in favor of another form of transportation. The principal of each school may issue passes for school bus transportation to certain pupils who have chosen to drive a private vehicle, for use on a temporary and emergency basis; and may also set aside a specific number of parking spaces for use on a temporary and emergency basis by pupils who originally chose transportation by school bus. Any contract between the Department of Education and a supplier of bus transportation, or between a local school board and a supplier of bus transportation, shall be based upon the number of students who elect to be transported by bus, and shall not be based upon the total number of students in the school or school district.
§ 2910 School bus drivers; drug and alcohol testing.
(a) In order to coordinate state and federal efforts to insure the safety of school children, the Department of Education is authorized to contract for a program of drug and alcohol testing services necessary to enable public school districts, charter schools and any person or entity that contracts with a school district or charter school to provide transportation for state public school students to comply with such drug and alcohol testing requirements applicable to Delaware public school bus drivers as are now, or may hereafter be, imposed by federal law. Testing services shall be provided at no cost to the bus driver's employer. The nature and extent of testing services to be provided shall be at the discretion of the Department of Education, but shall include pre-employment, reasonable suspicion, random and post-accident testing for alcohol and controlled substances pursuant to 49 U.S.C. § 31306 and the implementing regulations issued by the Secretary of Transportation of the United States pursuant thereto, as the same may from time to time subsequently be amended. In no event shall the Department of Education be responsible for the provision of any post-testing services either to a bus driver or to the driver's employer except to cause the results of such testing to be provided to the driver and to the driver's employer.
(b) Nothing contained herein shall be deemed to impose any additional obligation upon the employer of a public school bus driver beyond those obligations otherwise imposed upon such employer by state or federal law, or pursuant to rules and regulations promulgated in accordance with subsection (d) of this section.
(c) No person shall operate a public school bus while not in compliance with the provisions of all federal drug and alcohol testing requirements relevant to the drivers of Delaware public school buses and any regulations adopted by the Department of Education pursuant to this section.
(d) The Department of Education is authorized to promulgate rules and regulations to implement the provisions of this section, including, without limitation, rules and regulations which:
(1) Require all employers of public school bus drivers in this State to participate in the testing program contracted for by the Department; and
(2) Require public school districts, charter schools and the employers of public school bus drivers to follow such procedures and to maintain such records as the Department deems necessary to insure that public school bus drivers are being tested in accordance with the provisions of federal drug and alcohol testing requirements.
§ 2911 Safety standards for other vehicles.
After July 1, 1998, newly purchased and newly leased vehicles with a rated capacity, as defined by the manufacturer, to carry more than 10 passengers in addition to the driver that are used to transport preprimary, primary and secondary pupils between home and school or to school-related events shall meet state and federal specifications and safety standards applicable to school buses. Contract charter buses meeting federal DOT standards may be used for field trips.