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Policy 5220 – School Bus Contracts and School Bus Personnel

The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines for the administration of school bus contracts and school bus personnel.

Policy Document

I. Policy Statement

The Board of Education recognizes the need to provide safe, reliable and efficient transportation services to students for educational and extracurricular programs. The Board further recognizes the need to contract with legal entities which are qualified school bus contractors with certified personnel and equipment.

II. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines for the administration of school bus contracts and school bus personnel.

III. Definitions

Within the context of this policy, the following definitions apply:

  1. School Bus – A vehicle approved by the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) as required in the school bus contract with the Board.

  2. School Bus Attendant – An individual approved to assist students and the school bus driver as required in the school bus contract with the Board.

  3. School Bus Contract (Contract) – A binding written agreement between the Board and a school bus contractor to provide school transportation services for the HCPSS.

  4. School Bus Contractor (Contractor) – A legal entity approved to operate school buses when awarded a school bus contract by the Board.

  5. School Bus Driver – An individual approved to operate a school bus as required in the school bus contract with the Board.

  6. School Bus Inspection – A scheduled or non-scheduled inspection of school buses performed by HCPSS staff, Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) inspectors, or licensed private service providers.

  7. School Bus Personnel – School bus drivers and school bus attendants employed by school bus contractors.

IV. Standards

  1. All legal entities awarded school bus contracts with the Board will be approved based on, but not limited to: experience, criminal background checks, personal and professional references, garage location, safety and driving records, appropriate financial position, school bus inspection records, and available qualified personnel.

  2. All personnel provided by the school bus contractor in fulfillment of the requirements of the school bus contract with the Board will meet all applicable federal and state motor vehicle licensing requirements, Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR), and HCPSS requirements.

  3. All vehicles provided by the school bus contractor for transportation services will comply with all United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), Maryland MVA, COMAR, and HCPSS requirements and specifications as defined in the school bus contract.

  4. School Bus Contracts

    1. School bus contracts will be awarded to the best qualified legal entity and in accordance with HCPSS Policy 4050 Procurement of Goods and/or Services. All contract awards will be recommended to the Board for approval.

    2. Transfer of school bus contracts is prohibited unless expressly approved by the Board.

    3. In emergency situations which result in non-fulfillment of school bus contract requirements, school bus contracts may be temporarily assigned by the Superintendent/Designee without prior approval of the Board. Temporary school bus contract assignments are limited to less than one fiscal year.

V. Responsibilities

  1. The Superintendent/Designee will ensure that standards for awarding school bus contracts are implemented and followed consistently.

  2. The Superintendent/Designee will oversee the pupil transportation system related to safety, transportation of students, safe condition of buses, the competence and fitness of school bus personnel, route assignments, and other issues relating to the day-to-day operation of the transportation system.

  3. The Pupil Transportation Office will provide copies of applicable policies and procedures to school bus contractors and will provide appropriate professional development and in-service training.

  4. School bus contractors are responsible for being fully informed of policies and procedures associated with the provision of school bus contracts and of any amendments thereto.

VI. Delegation of Authority

The Superintendent/Designee is authorized to develop appropriate procedures to implement this policy.

VII. References

  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Regulations 49 CFR part 382, Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use and Testing

  • United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) Regulations 49 CFR Part 40, Procedures for Transportation Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Programs

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article

    • Section 5-105 (Liability insurance)

    • Section 5-205 (Grants to provide transportation services; rules and regulations for safe operation)

    • Section 7-801 (Transporting students)

    • Section 7-802 (Driver’s age)

    • Section 7-804 (Length of use of school bus)

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Transportation Article

    • Section 11-153 (School bus)

    • Section 11-154 (School vehicle)

    • Section 11-173 (Type I school vehicle)

    • Section 11-174 (Type II school vehicle)

    • Section 13-420 (Registration of school vehicles)

    • Section 13-932 (School vehicles: Class H)

    • Section 16-103.2 (School vehicle drivers)

    • Section 16-816 (School vehicles)

    • Section 21-703 (Stopping at all railroad crossings)

    • Section 21-706 (Overtaking and passing school vehicle)

    • Section 21-1118 (School Bus regulations)

    • Section 22-218 (Audible and visual signals on vehicles)

    • Section 22-227 (Special restrictions on lamps)

    • Section 22-228 (Special equipment on school vehicles)

    • Section 22-418 (Color of school vehicles)

    • Section 23-107 (Inspection certificate)

    • Section 25-110 (Regulations relative to school vehicles)

  • COMAR 11.19.01 to .08 Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) – School Vehicles

  • COMAR 13A.06.07 Student Transportation

C. Relevant Data Sources

  • Vehicle Maintenance and Safety Records

VIII. History

ADOPTED: October 3, 1967



REVISED: August 10, 1989, June 13, 1996, December 14, 2000, June 10, 2004, April 10, 2008, November 20, 2014

EFFECTIVE: December 1, 2014