SUPERINTENDENT INTERPRETATION
 
Interpretation's Date: August 3, 2005
by superintendent Steven L. Paine
Section: V. Personnel
SubSection: C. Service Personnel

 

Interpretation

August 3, 2005

Ronald V. Whetzel
Superintendent
Hardy County Schools
510 Ashby St.
Moorefield, WV 26836

Dear Superintendent Whetzel:

I am in receipt of your letter requesting a Superintendent=s Interpretation about regular school bus drivers and the possibility of a bus driver holding an additional full- time employment position. You are correct in citing W.Va. Department of Education Policy 4336, West Virginia School Bus Transportation Policy and Procedures Manual, which states, in ''14.1 B 2 (School Bus Operator Assignments):

14.1 Any person accepting employment as a school bus operator shall accept such position with the understanding that the responsibilities involved are his/her primary employment, and that such employment shall not be limited, or interfered with, by any commitment as a result of any other employment. 14.2 Any person who performs responsibilities as a school bus operator shall not be eligible to operate a school bus without a minimum of six (6) consecutive hours of off duty time, for proper rest between the conclusion of the previous day's regularly scheduled afternoon run and before the beginning of the next day's regularly scheduled morning run.

In the scenario you describe, an employee hired as a full time bus operator in your county has also accepted, and wishes to continue, full time employment with a local manufacturing firm. The work shift at the manufacturing firm is from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. or 10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. The work shift for the county board of education is anticipated to begin at approximately 6:55 a.m. and conclude at approximately 5:10 p.m.

The role of the bus driver is critical: large numbers of West Virginia children are safely transported throughout this state daily in all types of climates during the school year. In addition, school bus drivers must be constantly on alert for the safety of each individual student, the group of students as a whole, and the public at large. In recognizing this level of importance, Policy 4336 sets forth the requirements and expectations of not only bus operators, but also parents and children in regard to utilizing buses in our school system.

In addition, transportation schedules often abruptly change to reflect responses to weather, curriculum needs, or other unexpected occurrences. Snow delays, early dismissals, and actual bus equipment failures can lengthen or alter a regular schedule for a bus driver. To fulfill the requirements for employment, the driver=s schedule must be flexible to meet those challenges.

To maintain the expectations and meet the challenges facing a full-time bus driver, including a required six hours of uninterrupted rest set forth in '14.2 of Policy 4336, it is not possible for the bus operator you described to simultaneously serve in the position of a full- time bus operator and in a full-time position with the local manufacturing firm. Though a county is generally only responsible for ensuring that it does not impose a work schedule on an employee that precludes six hours of uninterrupted rest, in the present scenario there is un-controverted evidence that the employee will not be able to obtain six hours of uninterrupted rest as a result of employment at an alternate location. The county board of education cannot overlook the detrimental result this may have on the driver in question.

It is my opinion that someone employed as a full-time bus driver by a county school system is required by Section 14.1 to understand that transporting the school children is paramount in importance and safety. No other employment position can limit or interfere with those duties as set forth in Policy 4336.

Hoping I have been of service, I am,

Sincerely,

/s/

Steven L. Paine
State Superintendent of Schools

SLP/jmo