Currently, to drive a school bus in Missouri, you must have a “school-bus permit” in addition to your Commercial Driver’s License. Beginning Sept. 30, 2005, your current school bus permit will not satisfy federal guidelines under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act. Bus drivers will be required to have a “school-bus endorsement.” Therefore, the Missouri Department of Revenue has adopted new requirements that must be met both by new applicants and current holders of school-bus permits.
Beginning May 31, 2005, a new applicant for a school-bus permit must pass a knowledge-and-skills test for obtaining a CDL and pass a new knowledge test for the school-bus endorsement. (For more information, see http://dor.mo.gov/faq/drivers/schoolbus.php) In addition, new applicants must pass a skills test in the same type of bus the applicant will be driving for the school district.
Current holders of school-bus permits also must meet new requirements prior to September 2005. The Department of Revenue intends to send letters to all current permit holders notifying them of the new requirements; however, failure to receive the letter will not exempt a driver from the new requirements. Therefore, if you are a current bus driver with a school-bus permit, you must take steps to meet these new requirements.
Current school-bus drivers will have to take the new knowledge test referred to above. Current school-bus permit holders will not have to take a new driving skills test. Missouri has “grandfathered” current permit holders with respect to the skills test. However, the applicant must submit a “grandfathering application,” which will verify that for the two years prior to applying for the SBE the applicant has had a CDL permitting operation of the type of school bus he or she will be driving for the district and has been regularly employed as a school-bus driver, with proof of that employment produced with the “grandfathering application.” In addition, a federal driving history review is part of the grandfathering application. The results of the knowledge test must be submitted with the “grandfathering application.”
If a current holder of a school-bus permit fails to obtain the SBE prior to Sept. 30, 2005, the driver will have to go through the entire process required of a new applicant.
If you have questions regarding these new requirements, contact your UniServ director.
All bus drivers are subject to random drug testing. In addition, if you are involved in an accident, you must submit to drug testing. If you are notified by your employer that you must submit to a drug test (whether random or as a result of an accident), contact your UniServ director immediately. If you fail to contact your UD immediately, Missouri NEA’s ability to assist you will be impaired. Events move swiftly in these types of situations. You must have informed advice at the outset.
After complying with the employer-ordered test, it is imperative that you obtain an independent drug test in addition to that ordered by your employer. It is possible for drug testing to show false-positive results. If this happens to you, the only way to refute the false-positive results is a negative result in another test taken in close proximity (i.e., within 24 hours) to the other. This independent test will have to be paid for by you (the cost is approximately $40-$50, depending on what drugs must be detected). You may have the test done at an independent drug-testing facility or at a doctor’s office. When you go to the independent facility or to your doctor’s office, do not sign a release permitting the facility or the doctor to release the results to your employer.
If your school-bus permit/endorsement is revoked as a result of a false-positive drug test and you have obtained a valid negative result from an independent test taken in close proximity to the other, MNEA will represent you in appealing the revocation of the school-bus permit/endorsement.
by Jacquie Shipma
MNEA manager of legal services and human resources