Current Status Bill Number:
4824Type of Legislation: General Bill GBIntroducing Body: HouseIntroduced Date: 19960327Primary Sponsor: FulmerAll Sponsors: FulmerDrafted Document Number: gjk\22255sd.96Companion Bill Number: 1301Residing Body: HouseCurrent Committee: Education and Public Works Committee 21 HEPWSubject: School buses
Body Date Action Description Com Leg Involved ______ ________ _______________________________________ _______ ____________ House 19960327 Introduced, read first time, 21 HEPW referred to CommitteeView additional legislative information at the LPITS web site.
TO AMEND SECTION 56-5-2570, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO PARKING OF AN UNATTENDED MOTOR VEHICLE, SO AS TO PROVIDE FOR AN EXCEPTION FOR WHEELCHAIRS; TO AMEND SECTION 56-5-2770, RELATING TO SIGNALS AND MARKINGS ON SCHOOL BUSES AND MEETING AND PASSING SCHOOL BUSES, SO AS TO CLARIFY CERTAIN REFERENCES IN THE SECTION, AND FURTHER PROVIDE FOR WHEN A DRIVER OF A SCHOOL BUS NEED NOT STOP; TO AMEND SECTION 56-5-4700, RELATING TO REQUIRED EQUIPMENT FOR EMERGENCY VEHICLES AND SCHOOL BUSES, SO AS TO FURTHER PROVIDE FOR THIS REQUIRED EQUIPMENT AND ITS USE; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-10, RELATING TO THE DEFINITION OF A SCHOOL BUS, SO AS TO REVISE THIS DEFINITION; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-20, AS AMENDED, RELATING TO REGULATIONS OF THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION GOVERNING DESIGN AND OPERATION OF SCHOOL BUSES, SO AS TO CHANGE A REFERENCE FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY TO THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-30, RELATING TO PAINTINGS AND MARKINGS OF SCHOOL BUSES, SO AS TO REQUIRE THESE MARKINGS TO CONFORM TO SPECIFIED NATIONAL STANDARDS; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-50, RELATING TO REMOVAL OF IDENTIFICATION MARKS FROM FORMER SCHOOL BUSES, SO AS TO INCREASE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATION; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-60, RELATING TO REQUIRED REPAINTING OF FORMER SCHOOL BUSES IN A COLOR DIFFERENT THAN YELLOW, SO AS TO INCREASE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATION; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-80, RELATING TO WIPERS, BRAKES, LIGHTS, AND OTHER EQUIPMENT ON SCHOOL BUSES, SO AS TO FURTHER PROVIDE FOR THIS EQUIPMENT; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-100, RELATING TO SEATING SPACE ON SCHOOL BUSES, SO AS TO FURTHER PROVIDE FOR THESE SPACE REQUIREMENTS; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-110, RELATING TO EXITS ON SCHOOL BUSES, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT EMERGENCY EXITS MUST BE IN COMPLIANCE WITH SPECIFIED NATIONAL STANDARDS; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-150, RELATING TO QUALIFICATIONS OF SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS AND PROHIBITED ACTS ON BUSES, SO AS TO FURTHER PROVIDE FOR THESE QUALIFICATIONS AND TO SPECIFY THE PERSONS TO WHOM THIS PROHIBITION APPLIES AND WHERE IT APPLIES; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-190, RELATING TO THE PROHIBITION AGAINST A SCHOOL BUS DRIVER LEAVING THE BUS WHILE THE ENGINE IS RUNNING, SO AS TO PROVIDE AN EXCEPTION FOR ASSISTING PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES OR IN EMERGENCIES; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-200, RELATING TO THE REQUIREMENT OF A COMPLETE STOP TO DISCHARGE PASSENGERS, SO AS TO STIPULATE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR A COMPLETE STOP AND TO PROVIDE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-210, RELATING TO THE PROHIBITION AGAINST ONE SCHOOL BUS PASSING ANOTHER, SO AS TO PERMIT SUCH PASSING ON MULTIPLE-LANE ROADS, TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-220, RELATING TO THE PROHIBITION AGAINST FILLING THE GASOLINE TANK OF A SCHOOL BUS WHILE THE ENGINE IS RUNNING, SO AS TO CHANGE THE REFERENCE FROM GASOLINE TO FUEL; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-230, RELATING TO THE REQUIREMENT THAT A SCHOOL BUS STOP BEFORE CROSSING RAILROAD TRACKS, SO AS TO STIPULATE CERTAIN SITUATIONS WHEN THE SECTION DOES NOT APPLY; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-240, RELATING TO DISCIPLINARY DUTIES OF SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS, SO AS TO FURTHER PROVIDE FOR THE ADOPTION OF DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURES; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-245, RELATING TO INTERFERENCE WITH THE OPERATION OF SCHOOL BUSES, SO AS TO PROVIDE A CRIMINAL PENALTY FOR VIOLATIONS; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-270, RELATING TO INSPECTION OF SCHOOL BUSES, SO AS TO AUTHORIZE THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AS WELL AS THE HIGHWAY PATROL TO INSPECT BUSES; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-280, RELATING TO PENALTIES FOR VIOLATING CERTAIN SCHOOL BUS PROVISIONS, SO AS TO INCREASE SUCH PENALTIES; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-290, RELATING TO NEGLIGENCE OF SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS NOT BEING IMPUTABLE TO PASSENGERS, SO AS TO REQUIRE SUCH DRIVERS TO COMPLY WITH ALL DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION REGULATIONS; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-410, RELATING TO CONTROL BY THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF SCHOOL BUS TRANSPORTATION, SO AS TO DELEGATE TO THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION THE POLICY AUTHORITY OVER SCHOOL BUS TRANSPORTATION; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-420, AS AMENDED, RELATING TO THE EXTENT OF SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION PROVIDED, SO AS TO REVISE THESE TRANSPORTATION OBLIGATIONS THE STATE ASSUMES AND TO REVISE OTHER PROVISIONS RELATING TO TRANSPORTATION OF CHILDREN INCLUDING MAXIMUM TIME LIMITS ON SCHOOL BUS RIDES; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-425, RELATING TO TRANSPORTATION OF CHILDREN ATTENDING KINDERGARTEN, SO AS TO FURTHER PROVIDE FOR THE CHILDREN WHO MAY BE TRANSPORTED AND CONDITIONS TO WHICH AND UNDER WHICH THIS SECTION APPLIES; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-460, RELATING TO CONTRACTS FOR TRANSPORTATION SERVICES WITH PRIVATE PERSONS, SO AS TO FURTHER PROVIDE FOR THE MANNER IN WHICH THESE CONTRACTS MAY BE ISSUED AND THE COSTS OF SUCH TRANSPORTATION; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-470, RELATING TO THE SELECTION, ELIGIBILITY, AND TRAINING OF SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS, SO AS TO FURTHER PROVIDE FOR THIS SELECTION, ELIGIBILITY, AND TRAINING AND TO PROVIDE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS OF THE SECTION; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-480, RELATING TO SALARIES OF SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION SHALL ESTABLISH A SALARY SCHEDULE FOR SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-490, RELATING TO SCHOOL BUS ROUTES OF STATE-OWNED BUSES, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION SHALL APPROVE THE ROUTES; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-500, RELATING TO SCHOOL BUS ROUTES OF LOCALLY-OWNED BUSES, SO AS TO CHANGE A REFERENCE FROM THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION TO THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-510, RELATING TO THE USE OF TRANSPORTATION EQUIPMENT FOR SPECIAL EVENTS, SO AS TO CLARIFY AND REVISE CERTAIN TERMS AND REFERENCES; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-520, RELATING TO TRANSPORTATION OF HANDICAPPED STUDENTS, SO AS TO CHANGE REFERENCES FROM HANDICAPPED PERSONS TO PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-535, RELATING TO USE OF BOATS OPERATED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO TRANSPORT BLIND, ELDERLY, OR DISABLED PERSONS, SO AS TO CLARIFY REFERENCES THEREIN AND THE MANNER IN WHICH SUCH BOATS MAY BE USED FOR THESE PURPOSES; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-540, AS AMENDED, RELATING TO MAINTENANCE OF STATE-OWNED BUSES, SO AS TO FURTHER PROVIDE FOR THIS MAINTENANCE TO BE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-550, RELATING TO INSTALLMENT PURCHASES OF SCHOOL BUS MAINTENANCE SHOPS, SO AS TO TRANSFER RESPONSIBILITIES UNDER THE SECTION FROM THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION TO THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-570, AS AMENDED, RELATING TO STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION REGULATIONS PERTAINING TO SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION, SO AS TO DELETE CERTAIN REFERENCES TO THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-720, RELATING TO INSURANCE PREMIUMS ON STATE-OWNED SCHOOL BUSES, SO AS TO CHANGE A REFERENCE FROM THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION TO THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION; AND TO REPEAL SECTIONS 59-67-70, 59-67-90, 59-67-120, 59-67-250, 59-67-260, 59-67-440, 59-67-450, AND 59-67-530 RELATING TO SCHOOL BUSES AND TRANSPORTATION.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Section 56-5-2570 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 56-5-2570. No person driving or in charge of a motor vehicle shall permit it to stand unattended without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition, removing the key, and effectively setting the brake thereon and, when standing upon any a grade, turning the front wheels to the curb or side of the highway. However, the operation of a wheelchair lift and the assistance of the wheelchair passenger in the immediate environment of the motor vehicle may not be interpreted as standing unattended for purposes of stopping the engine, locking the ignition, and removing the key."
SECTION 2. Section 56-5-2770 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 56-5-2770. (a) The driver of a vehicle meeting or overtaking from either direction any a school bus stopped on the highway shall stop before reaching the bus where there are in operation on the bus flashing red lights specified in State Department of Education Regulations and Specifications Pertaining to School Buses, and the driver shall not proceed until the bus resumes motion or the flashing red lights are no longer actuated.
(b) Every school bus shall must be equipped with red or red and amber visual signals meeting the requirements of State Department of Education Regulations and Specifications Pertaining to School Buses, which may be actuated by the driver whenever, but only whenever, the bus is stopped or preparing to stop on the highway for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children. A driver shall not actuate the special visual signal in designated school bus loading areas if the bus is entirely off the roadway.
(c) Every school bus shall bear upon its front and rear plainly visible signs containing the words `SCHOOL BUS' in letters not less than eight inches in height. When a bus is being operated upon a highway for purposes other than the actual transportation of children either to or from school or school related the transportation of individuals for school-sponsored activities, all markings indicating `SCHOOL BUS' shall must be covered or concealed.
(d) The driver of a vehicle need not stop upon meeting a stopped school bus:
1. When the bus is in a passenger loading zone completely off the main travel lanes and when pedestrians are not allowed to cross the roadway.
2. On a four-lane or multi-lane highways where the roadways are separated by an a wide earth or grass median or a raised concrete median barrier.
(e) The driver of a vehicle must stop upon meeting or passing approaching a stopped school bus:
1. on any a two-lane highway.;
2. on any a four-lane or multi-laned highway where opposing highway is separated only by painted lines on the roadway or a narrow gravel or hard-surfaced median.; or
3. when overtaking a school bus which has red or amber signals actuated."
SECTION 3. Section 56-5-4700 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 56-5-4700. (a) Every authorized emergency vehicle shall, in addition to any other equipment and distinctive markings required by this chapter, must be equipped with a siren, exhaust whistle, or bell capable of giving an audible signal.
(b) Every school bus and every authorized emergency vehicle shall, in addition to any other equipment and distinctive markings required by this chapter, must be equipped with signal lamps mounted as high and as widely spaced laterally as practicable, which shall be capable of displaying to the front two alternately flashing red lights located at the same level and to the rear two alternately flashing red lights located at the same level, and these lights shall have sufficient intensity to be visible at five hundred feet in normal sunlight. Provided, that vehicles of any fire department or funeral home when equipped with a mounted, oscillating, rotating, or flashing red light, visible in all directions for a distance of five hundred feet in normal sunlight, shall are not be required to have additional signal lamps.
(c) A police vehicle when used as an authorized emergency vehicle may but need not be equipped with alternately flashing red lights as specified herein. Also, such vehicle may in lieu of the alternately flashing red lights be equipped with a special dome-mounted oscillating, rotating, or flashing red or blue light visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the front in normal sunlight; provided, that it shall be unlawful for any a person to possess any a flashing, oscillating or rotating blue light on any a vehicle except one used primarily for law enforcement purposes.
Provided, further, that after January 1, 1967, all All police vehicles when used as an authorized emergency vehicle shall then vehicles must be equipped with dome-mounted, oscillating, rotating, or flashing blue lights visible from a distance of five hundred feet.
(d) The alternately flashing lighting described in subsection (b) of this section shall may not be used on any a vehicle other than an authorized emergency vehicle. Provided, that However, a school bus may use the alternately flashing red lighting described in subsection (b), or red flashing lights in the rear and amber flashing lights in the front.
(e) The use of the signal equipment described herein shall impose imposes upon drivers of other vehicles the obligation to yield right-of-way and stop as prescribed in Sections 56-5-2360 and 56-5-2770."
SECTION 4. Section 59-67-10 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-10. When used in this article, `school bus 'shall be construed to mean every means a vehicle as defined in Section 56-5-190. Every motor vehicle owned by a public or governmental agency and operated for the transportation of children to or from school and school-related activities or privately owned and operated for compensation for the transportation of children to or from school and school-related activities."
SECTION 5. Section 59-67-20 of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Section 1545 of Act 181 of 1993, is further amended to read:
"Section 59-67-20. The State Board of Education, by and with the advice of the Department of Public Safety Education, shall adopt and enforce regulations not inconsistent with Chapter 5 of Title 56 to govern the design and operation of all school buses used for the transportation of school children when owned and operated by any a school district or privately owned and operated under contract with any a school district in this State, and such the regulations shall by reference shall be made a part of any such the contract with a school district. Every school district, its officers, and employees, and every person employed under contract by a school district shall be is subject to such the regulations. Any An officer or employee of any a school district who violates any of such the regulations or fails to include the obligation to comply with such the regulations in any a contract executed by him on behalf of a school district shall be is guilty of misconduct and subject to removal may be removed from office or employment. Any A person operating a school bus under contract with a school district who fails to comply with any such the regulations shall be is guilty of breach of contract and such the contract shall be canceled after notice and hearing by the responsible officers of such the school district."
SECTION 6. Section 59-67-30 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-30. Every state-owned school bus while being used in the transportation of school pupils shall must be substantially painted with high visibility yellow paint, conforming and similar to National School Bus chrome yellow, and shall display the following markings: conforming with the National School Bus Standards and
(1) Sides-The the words `SOUTH CAROLINA PUBLIC SCHOOLS' in not less than four inch four-inch high letters located directly under the windows.
(2) Back-The words "SCHOOL BUS" in letters not less than eight inches high located between the warning signal lamps.
(3) Front-The words "SCHOOL BUS" in letters not less than eight inches high located between the warning signal lamps.
The State Board of Education is hereby authorized to adopt and to enforce whatever color and marking standards as adopted by the National School Bus Standards and additional regulations regarding the painting and marking of school buses which they may deem be necessary and proper."
SECTION 7. Section 59-67-50 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-50. All school buses in this State, when no longer used for school purposes and sold to any a person for private or public use, must have all marks of identification showing that these buses were used by schools and school districts removed before private or public use may be made of them. Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, is subject to a fine not exceeding twenty-five of one hundred dollars or imprisonment upon the public works of the county in which the offense is committed for a period of not more than thirty days."
SECTION 8. Section 59-67-60 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-60. Any A person who purchases a used school bus to be used for a purpose other than a school bus must shall paint it a color other than yellow before operating such the bus on the highway. Any A person violating the provisions of this section shall be is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall must be fined not more than one two hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than thirty days, or both, in the discretion of the court."
SECTION 9. Section 59-67-80 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-80. Every school bus shall must be equipped with a power-driven windshield wiper, adequate brakes, and efficient lights which shall at all times when in use must be in good working order and also with a rear view mirror or mirrors of such dimensions as will enable the driver, from the driver's seat, to see reflected in them not only the occupants of the vehicle but also the road to the left and to the rear of the vehicle for a proper distance adequately to observe traffic in his rear. The mirror reflection also must give a view of the front and sides of the vehicle to observe pedestrian movement and must comply with the appropriate federal motor vehicle safety standard."
SECTION 10. Section 59-67-100 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-100. Sufficient seating space shall be provided so far as practicable for each passenger transported inside each school bus, no aisle in the school bus shall be less than twelve inches in width and all seats shall be securely fastened to the floor or body of the vehicle. All pupils passengers must be within the body of the bus at all times while the bus is in motion. They shall not be permitted to ride on the running boards or in any other place outside the bus, nor shall they be permitted to ride with heads or arms protruding through open windows. Commencing with the 1974-75 school year, the The number of pupils passengers transported on a school bus shall not exceed by more than ten percent the manufacturer's rated seating capacity of such the bus.; and by the school year 1975-76, seating space shall be provided for each pupil transported. Provided, however, that a A limited number of standees over the vehicle's rated seating capacity may be permitted until the bus routes can be adjusted to accommodate the overload but the overloading that occurs in relation to the implementation of new routes and schedules. The overloading must not to exceed twenty school days."
SECTION 11. Section 59-67-110 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-110. Every school bus shall be provided with a front entrance-exit on the right side of the vehicle and a rear an additional emergency exit or door, conspicuously marked on the inside `emergency door` and equipped with a fastening device capable of quickly being quickly released in emergency but entirely safe from accidental opening upon the application of any pressure from within the bus. Except in the event of an emergency, no person shall be allowed to enter or leave the bus by any other than the front entrance-exit. The emergency exit standards of this State shall be in compliance with the appropriate federal motor vehicle safety standards."
SECTION 12. Section 59-67-150 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-150. The driver of each a school bus must be an experienced driver of good moral habits, be able to perform all emergency evacuation duties, and neither he nor any pupil nor any other person passenger shall use alcoholic liquors or smoke any cigar, cigarette, pipe, tobacco, or other substance in or near the such vehicle during the time he is operating the same as a school bus."
SECTION 13. Section 59-67-190 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-190. No driver or operator of a school bus shall leave the bus while the engine is running or while passengers remain on the bus except when assisting in the loading and unloading of passengers with disabilities or in circumstances considered emergencies."
SECTION 14. Section 59-67-200 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-200. Each A school bus must come to a complete stop with clutch disengaged transmission in neutral, hand brake engaged, and all lighting and traffic control devices activated as specified in Section 56-5-2770 before any a passenger is permitted to alight or enter. A person violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than two hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than sixty days."
SECTION 15. Section 59-67-210 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-210. It shall be is unlawful for any a person operating a school bus on a two-lane highway to pass another school bus unless the lead bus is in a stopped position, and the driver of the lead bus has signalled signals to the operator of the bus in the rear that it is safe to pass or one of the buses is in a designated turn lane. Any A person violating the provisions of this section shall be is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall must be fined the sum of one hundred dollars or be imprisoned for a term of thirty days."
SECTION 16. Section 59-67-220 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-220. No gasoline fuel tank on or in any a vehicle used as a school bus shall be filled while the engine is running or, except in an emergency, when there are pupils passengers in the bus."
SECTION 17. Section 59-67-230 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-230. The operator of any a school bus shall, before crossing at grade any the tracks of any a railroad, shall bring his the vehicle to a full and complete stop within not less than fifteen feet nor more than fifty feet from the rail of the track nearest to the front of such the vehicle and shall, after such stop stopping, ascertain if it is safe to proceed before crossing such the tracks. This section does not apply to a railroad grade crossing where traffic is controlled by police or other law enforcement officers. If a section of railroad track has been removed on both sides of the railroad grade crossing, the railroad track is considered not operational, and this section does not apply."
SECTION 18. Section 59-67-240 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-240. The driver of each a school bus shall cooperate with the teachers in their work in the school to which he is transporting pupils by being on time in the mornings and waiting in the afternoons until all his the pupils are dismissed by the school faculty and safely aboard his the bus. He also shall take particular notice along his route in the mornings and give pupils within sight a reasonable time in which to board his the bus. The driver shall be is responsible for maintaining good conduct upon his the bus and shall report promptly to the governing head of the school to or from which the pupils are transported any misconduct or any violation of the driver's instructions by any a person riding in his bus.
District boards of school trustees in this State may authorize The school district governing body shall adopt disciplinary procedures authorizing school administrators to suspend or expel pupils from riding a school bus for misconduct on the bus or for violating instructions of the driver."
SECTION 19. Section 59-67-245 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-245. No person shall wilfully and wrongfully interfere with the operation of a school bus, either public or private, by boarding, restricting movement, or using threats, either physical or verbal, to the driver or any a passenger while the bus is engaged in the transportation of pupils to and from school or any lawful school activity or while passengers are entering or leaving the bus nor shall any a person wilfully fail or refuse to obey a lawful order of a school bus driver relating to the occupancy of a school bus. The use of threatening, obscene, or profane language addressed to the driver or any a passenger entering, leaving, or waiting for a school bus is disorderly conduct and any a person convicted for the use of such language shall be punished as provided in Section 16-17-530. Nothing contained herein shall be interpreted to infringe upon the power and duties of duly constituted authorities. A person violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than two hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than sixty days."
SECTION 20. Section 59-67-270 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-270. All school buses shall be are subject to inspection at any time or place by officers of the State Highway Patrol Division or inspection forces and State Department of Education. No school bus shall continue in operation in the transportation of pupils when found to be unsafe until the unsafe conditions disclosed by such the inspection shall have been corrected."
SECTION 21. Section 59-67-280 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-280. The doing of anything prohibited by A person who violates the provisions of this article or failing to do anything required by this article shall be is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable and upon conviction must be punished by a fine of not less than five dollars nor more than one two hundred dollars or by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than five nor more than thirty sixty days."
SECTION 22. Section 59-67-290 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-290. The negligence or carelessness of the driver of any a motor-driven vehicle used for the transportation of children to and from school shall not be imputed to attributed to the passengers on such the vehicle. The driver of any motor-driven vehicle used for the transportation of children to and from school shall comply with all regulations adopted by the Department of Education."
SECTION 23. Section 59-67-410 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-410. The control and policies and regulations controlling the management of all school bus transportation in the State shall be is vested in the State Board of Education. It is the responsibility of the Department of Education to implement and enforce the policies and regulations adopted by the State Board of Education."
SECTION 24. Section 59-67-420 of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 532 of 1988, is further amended to read:
"Section 59-67-420. The State, acting through the State Board of Education, assumes no obligation to transport any a child to or from school who lives within one and one-half miles of the school he attends, nor to provide transportation services extending within a one-half mile radius of the residence of any a child, nor to furnish transportation for any a child who attends a grade in a school outside the pupil's district when the same grade is taught in an appropriate school that is located within the school district in which the pupil lives. The cost of transporting pupils to regularly organized instructional classes in the district or attendance area for which school credit is given must be borne by the State. The cost of transportation for new programs conducted by the school districts must be borne by the school district until such time as the program is approved adopted as a statewide program by the State Board of Education and adequate funding for the cost of transportation for the programs is arranged.
The State may assume the obligation of transporting students living within one and one-half miles of their schools and within a one-half mile radius of their residences when it is for the health and safety of the children where hazardous conditions are involved. In these cases, the local school district may apply in writing to the State Department of Education for the department to assume the financial responsibility for this transportation for the health and safety of the children involved. In its application, local school districts shall assign priority to its requests for transportation on the basis of children's ages, with the youngest children subject to hazardous conditions receiving the highest priorities. After examining the request, the state department shall render a decision on each application based on the location of the schools in relation to students' homes, the traffic patterns on adjacent roads, the existence of sidewalks, children's ages, and other factors considered pertinent. The state department shall not approve local district applications that have not assigned priority on the basis of children's ages, with the youngest children receiving highest priority. Hazardous criteria shall be established by the school district governing body and shall respond to highway and highway-related traffic hazards. The districts shall weigh the need for the state hazardous transportation funds by giving priority to children that are least familiar with traffic movement and the complexity of the traffic hazard. The Department of Education shall equitably allocate funds to the district for hazardous transportation. The department shall receive each district's applications for transportation within a hazardous area and apply these against the district's allocation until available funds are exhausted.
Regardless of the provisions of distance criteria stated in the first paragraph of this section, the State shall transport and bear the cost of transporting five-year-old children attending public school kindergarten programs to and from their residences at the conclusion of a morning kindergarten session and from their residences to an afternoon kindergarten session or other designated locations.
Notwithstanding the above provisions of this section, the State may assume the obligation of transporting students to contiguous school districts when it is in the financial best interest of the State to do so. The State also shall route buses over the most efficient routes over adequately maintained public and private accessible highways and streets to provide service within two-tenths mile of each child in grades K-5. No student shall ride continuously on a bus for more than one hour and fifteen minutes, and the number of students assigned to a bus shall not be greater than the manufacturer certified seating capacity. The one hour and fifteen minute ride maximum may exceed the length of time in unusual rural geographic situations."
SECTION 25. Section 59-67-425 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-425. Three, or four, or five-year old children attending public school-sponsored kindergarten or child development programs must be permitted to ride state-owned buses to the extent funds are made available by the General Assembly or as long as transportation services may be provided at no additional cost to the State."
SECTION 26. Section 59-67-460 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-460. Any county school district board of education trustees may at any time contract for any part or all of its transportation services with private individuals or contractors for the furnishing of such services. In any such instance the county school district board of education trustees shall execute the contracts. The county school district board of trustees shall be responsible for the payment of all sums due under contracts so entered into and shall receive. State aid from the State for pupils thus transported only on the basis of shall be based on the average per statewide cost of a pupil operating cost of transported on a state-owned equipment school bus for the current year as determined by the State Board Department of Education. The average pupil transportation cost shall be based on the most recent year cost data and contain only those elements of the cost for which the school district is contracting.
The contracting for school boat transportation is based on the state's average hourly cost of transportation by boat. Per hour transportation cost by boat is based on the most recent expenditure data.
The Board State Department of Education may enter into agreements with county school district boards of education whereby pupils living in isolated areas may be transported trustees to transport pupils by special arrangements when such transportation can be provided at lower cost than by operating a regular bus route."
SECTION 27. Section 59-67-470 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-470. The school bus drivers, whether students or adults, shall be selected and employed by the respective boards of trustees governing body of the school districts, subject to the approval of the respective county boards of education. No person under sixteen eighteen years of age shall be eligible for consideration as a bus driver. Before being employed, all prospective drivers shall be examined by the State Board Department of Education or its agent to determine their competency. The State Board Department of Education shall provide a rigid school bus driver training structure course and issue special `school bus driver's certificates' to successful candidates. No person shall be authorized to drive a school bus in this State transporting children, whether the bus be owned by the State, by a local school agency, or by a private contractor, who has not been so certified by the State Board Department of Education. All school bus driver certificates shall be renewed every three four years. Drivers who have certificates issued prior to September 1962, must enroll and satisfactorily complete bus driver training courses prior to September 1965, and each three years thereafter. Local school district superintendents shall supervise the conduct of pupils being transported and of school bus drivers. When any a person is relieved of his duties as a bus driver, for just cause, by the local school superintendent, shall require the driver is to turn in his school bus driver certificate to which shall be forwarded the district superintendent. The superintendent is to forward the certificate to the State Board Department of Education. A school bus operator who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than two hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than sixty days. A certificate may be reissued to such a driver at a later date upon approval of by the local district superintendent and the State Board Department of Education. The provisions of this section shall not apply to private schools."
SECTION 28. Section 59-67-480 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-480. Salaries of The salary schedule for school bus drivers of state-owned buses shall be established by the State Department of Education. The rate of pay shall be determined by the appropriation fixed annually by the General Assembly."
SECTION 29. Section 59-67-490 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-490. The school district boards of trustees of each district shall make a thorough study of transportation needs each school year, and shall submit proposed safe and efficient route descriptions and schedules in accordance with the limitations of Section 59-67-420 and approved by county school authorities annually to the State Board Department of Education annually. All The efficiency and effectiveness of all routes served by state-owned equipment shall be is subject to the approval of the Board and the local board of trustees; no State Department of Education. No such equipment shall be operated supported by state funds except upon routes so approved."
SECTION 30. Section 59-67-500 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-500. The Board State Department of Education shall have no jurisdiction over the routing of buses owned and operated by local school agencies districts either directly or by contract."
SECTION 31. Section 59-67-510 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-510. County boards of education The school district board may permit the use of school bus equipment for transportation in connection with athletic events, boys' and girls' clubs extracurricular programs, special events in connection with the schools, and such other educational purposes as may appear proper to the respective boards."
SECTION 32. Section 59-67-520 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-520. Notwithstanding the provisions of Sections 59-33-50, 59-67-420, and 59-67-510, the State Department of Education shall have the responsibility for transporting handicapped persons with disabilities of lawful school age to and from the nearest school in which a handicapped that pupil with a disability receives instruction has been duly assigned. Additionally, when a school district is providing classes for handicapped persons with disabilities between the ages of five three and twenty-one years at the same location where classes and programs are provided for handicapped persons with disabilities under age five and over age twenty-one, and when a cost reduction will result, the department may enter into a reciprocal agreement with the facility whereby certain handicapped persons with disabilities between the ages of five three and twenty-one years may be transported on buses not owned by the department and certain handicapped persons with disabilities under age five and over age twenty-one may be transported on department-owned buses."
SECTION 33. Section 59-67-535 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-535. Boats operated by the State Department of Education for transportation of school children from islands to mainland schools may also be used to transport on regular routes, on a space available basis only, any South Carolina resident who is over fifty-five years of age or disabled or legally blind as defined in Section 43-25-20 of the 1976 Code. A person requesting boat transportation shall present his medicare card or other card approved by the South Carolina Commission Division on Aging to the employee of the State Department of Education school district who is in charge of the particular boat, and a person who is disabled or legally blind shall present to such person in charge of the boat a certificate to that effect from a licensed doctor of medicine or an official of an agency authorized by law to make determinations of disability or blindness.
The term `disabled' as used herein shall mean the inability to perform substantial gainful employment by reason of a medically-determinable impairment, either physical or mental, which has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of twelve months or more.
Use of such boats by residents who are over fifty-five years of age or who are disabled or blind shall be only on a space available basis and only at such time as the boat is being otherwise operated on official business its regular school routes. School children shall in every case be given priority of carriage. Provided, that special trips on such boats may be approved by the County Board of State Department of Education, in which case all costs shall be borne by the users school district.
Any A person authorized for transportation pursuant to the provisions of this section shall, prior to boarding, shall execute a `covenant not to sue' the State of South Carolina or any an agency thereof, on a form approved by the State Department of Education.
Nothing in this section shall be construed as a waiver of the state's general immunity from liability and suit.
The benefits provided by the provisions of Article 3, Chapter 77 of Title 15 and Article 5, Chapter 67 of Title 59 shall not be available to persons authorized to be transported pursuant to the provisions of this section."
SECTION 34. Section 59-67-540 of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 181 of 1993, is further amended to read:
"Section 59-67-540. The State Department of Education has the authority to establish and operate maintenance and supply stations and to acquire real property by purchase or lease for these stations. The State Department of Transportation Education shall be responsible for providing all supplies required for the operation of state-owned school buses and for maintaining them in efficient and safe mechanical condition. The Department shall be reimbursed periodically by the State Board of Education for expenditures incident to the operation and maintenance of buses, but no charge by, or reimbursement to, the Department of Transportation shall be made except to cover direct and additional expenses incurred by the department on account of the performance of this service. Provided, however, that the Board of Education shall have authority to establish and operate maintenance and supply stations, on an experimental or permanent basis, if it should be determined to be of advantage to the State, and in connection therewith to acquire real property by purchase or lease."
SECTION 35. Section 59-67-550 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-550. The State Board Department of Education is authorized to enter into an instalment installment payment agreement with any political subdivision offering to convey real property to the Board department for use as a school bus maintenance shop,. whereby payments Payments for such the property may be extended over a period of not more than ten years."
SECTION 36. Section 59-67-570 of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 181 of 1993, is further amended to read:
"Section 59-67-570. The State Board of Education may adopt such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the intent and purposes of this article. Such rules and The regulations shall have the full force and effect of law. But rules and regulations that affect the functions of the Department of Public Safety under this article or the operation of buses on the highways shall be adopted only jointly with the Department of Public Safety."
SECTION 37. Section 59-67-720 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-720. The premiums on all insurance contracts procured under the authority of Section 59-67-710 shall be paid out of the annual appropriation for transportation operated by the State Board Department of Education. Such premiums shall be considered a part of the general expenses of operating school bus transportation."
SECTION 38. Sections 59-67-70, 59-67-90, 59-67-120, 59-67-250, 59-67-260, 59-67-440, 59-67-450, and 59-67-530 of the 1976 Code are repealed.
SECTION 39. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.