Proposed bill aims to give school bus drivers extra protections

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - A proposed bill would protect school bus drivers who try to help your child in an emergency on the bus.

Idaho Education Association said there is a lot of gray area surrounding Idaho's Good Samaritan law when it comes to bus drivers because of school district policy.

"District policy has basically established that bus driver shouldn't intervene when something happens on their bus," Idaho Education Association president Penni Cyr said. "But then if something bad happens parents will say 'You didn't try to help my child,' and then they're caught between a rock and a hard place because that's kind of what policy says."

Cyr said the Good Samaritan law doesn't mix well with district policy, so they're proposing a bill that would protect bus drivers from criminal or financial liability if they jump in to help when something goes wrong on the bus.

"We want to make it okay for bus drivers to step in when it's necessary and stop these kinds of things without worrying about themselves and what kind of repercussions they could face," Cyr said. "It's important that our children feel safe on our buses, and it's important that our bus drivers feel safe to do their job and to help the kids they take care of on their ride to and from school."

Brown Bus Company operates buses for several school districts in Idaho. Spokesman Brent Carpenter said they have been telling their bus drivers they're protected under the state's Good Samaritan law.

"That's the assumption that we've been operating under," Carpenter said. "That if the student had a seizure or a student had a medical emergency that the driver could, from their experience, provide that assistance without fear of doing something wrong."

Carpenter said while this is the first he's hearing of the bill, he would likely support implementing extra protections for bus drivers.

"We want drivers to feel like they can help the students and not be hindered by something they're concerned about," he said. "Sometimes you make a mistake if you're concerned about making mistakes. We want them to feel comfortable in providing assistance they feel they're capable of providing."

KBOI asked if the bill had anything to do with the bus crash in Kuna in December, but Idaho Education Association said they have been working with the bill since the fall.

The bill is expected to go in front of the Senate Education Committee within the next week.