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Schools tighten rules on drivers

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FARMINGTON — Volunteers who are willing to transport Davis School District students in private vehicles face stringent requirements — including criminal background checks in some instances — under a policy adopted last week by the Davis Board of Education.

The philosophy behind the policy is that the district prefers that students use district transportation and district drivers whenever feasible.

The policy requires background checks for volunteers who are "given significant unsupervised access to a student in connection with the . . . assignment." That would include instances in which a private vehicle is used without a district employee being present.

The new Davis policy is consistent with changes being made in many school districts after accidents in which students were killed or injured while being transported to school activities in private vehicles. State Risk Management officials have asked the districts to review policy and to make changes that reduce district liability in these instances.

Parents or guardians who consent to their child being transported in a private vehicle must sign a form that will be on file at the school. Under no circumstances are students to be authorized or encouraged to drive other students to classes or activities, the policy states. Informed consent of the parents is required in instances where such arrangements are unavoidable.

Coaches, counselors or teachers are barred from suggesting car pools that imply a student driver is an agent for the district.

No one under 21 will be authorized to transport students under terms of the policy, and any travel that exceeds 100 miles from the home school must be by school bus or commercial carrier with properly licensed drivers.

No district or commercial vehicle with seating capacity of 11 or more may be used to transport students unless the vehicle meets federal school bus safety standards. Private/rental vehicles with capacity for nine or more passengers, including the driver, may not be used. Any person using a private vehicle to transport students must have liability insurance coverage and may not be allowed to drive if they have a conviction in the past 10 years for an alcohol or drug-related driving violation or more than two moving violations in the past year.

The stricter rules put Davis District in line with others that are safeguarding against lawsuits and providing students the safest possible transportation to and from school activities, said District Superintendent Darrell White.

E-MAIL: tvanleer@desnews.com