Is The Texas Education Agency Ignoring New School Bus Seatbelt Laws?
In 2007, the Texas state legislature passed a law that would require school buses to be equipped with seat belts for all students beginning in September of 2010. However, just as the law is about to go into effect, many believe that the Texas Education Agency is attempting to stall the law by cutting the funding promised to move the project forward. While the TEA initially promised $10 million to help school get safety belts on their buses, they now say that only $3.6 million will go toward the project, significantly slowing the installation of safe buses.
The measure to require seat belts on all Texas school buses was created after a 2006 school bus accident that killed two schoolgirls and injured a number of other high school students. The bus crash occurred on I-90 east of Devers, when the bus driver swerved suddenly in order to avoid cargo that had fallen off of a tractor-trailer ahead of them. The team from West Brook High School in Beaumont was traveling to a playoff game – students Ashley Brown and Alicia Bonura were killed in the accident while 22 others suffered injuries. The bus was not equipped with seat belts.
Many parents believe that the TEA is restricting funding in order to subvert the law. While some school systems, such as those in Dallas County, Beaumont, College Station and Wichita Falls, have already bought new buses with seat belts, many have not. The $3.6 million dollars is only expected to help about 80,000 Texas school children buckle up during their commute to and from school.