According to state reports, many Northeast Ohio school district buses are not passing their state inspections.
The Ohio Star viewed numerous reports of state bus inspections from Northeast Ohio school districts from June 2021 through August 2022. These reports update monthly, and the reports obtained only reflect percentages from June 2021 to last month.
School buses in Ohio are required to undergo inspections per Ohio School Bus Construction Standards and Ohio Revised Code sections 4511.76 and 4513.02. Bus inspections must be made twice annually by the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Under Ohio policy, there are three variants of school bus inspections: annual, spot, and new. Annual inspections are conducted on an annual schedule, spot (or special) inspections are conducted on each bus one time during the school year, and new inspections are conducted when a new bus is added to the fleet. Bus drivers are also required to complete and document a daily pre-trip and post-trip inspection of the school bus which includes checking the vehicle’s interior, exterior, and functionality, as well as under the hood.
“These inspections help by making sure the bus is mechanically safe and sound to transport children every day,” said Timothy Kulich, a bus driver for Reynoldsburg School District told The Ohio Star. “If we find any defect or questionable item then we report to the mechanics and they either fix it then or tell us to switch to a different bus. We do these inspections at the start of every day.”
Kulich told The Star that there is also an electronic system many districts use which stores the pre- and post-inspections. He said there are 11 spots that require inspection before drivers start their day, utilizing an onboard computer wand for inspections. These inspections also must be done any time a driver switches to a different bus.
The Ohio School Bus Standards and Inspection Manual states that a school bus can also receive three types of violations: minor, out-of-service, and a pupil transportation suspension. A minor violation consists of minimal damage such as cracked mirrors and missing items, while an out-of-service violation equates to larger damage such as leaks and broken heaters. A pupil transportation suspension consists of safety concerns, such as emergency windows not alarming when opened.
If a bus receives an out-of-service or pupil transportation violation, students cannot be transported until the bus is brought up to standards. Minor and out-of-service violations must be repaired within 15 days. A pupil transportation violation does not have a repair time frame. The bus may not be utilized by the district until repairs are made and the bus passes another inspection, according to the Ohio School Bus Standards and Inspection Manual.
State reports show that many buses in Northeast Ohio school districts do not have passing grades. Three districts in particular had high inspection violations. The report shows that 17 percent of Ravenna City School District buses were not operable because of pupil transportation violations, while 7 percent were flagged with out-of-service violations. Olmsted Falls City School District received out-of-service violations for 57 percent of buses, and in East Cleveland, 45 percent of buses did not pass inspection.
It is unclear why these districts have not been passing inspections. The Ohio Star reached out to the school districts for comment and as of press time, continue to await a response.
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