Deborah Davis Stewart is publisher and Editor-in-chief of Safe Ride News Publications.  She is also a nationally recognized expert on child passenger safety issues, including the LATCH system on which she wrote the book!

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School Bus Transportation: Another Country

I returned recently from almost a month in India. It is a fascinating country and the people are wonderful.  However, its differences are vast, both from the USA and from one region to another: food, languages, religions, traditions … I had to work hard to be more than just a tourist dropping in to see the sights.

Thinking about a typical CPSTs entering the realm of pupil transportation for the first time, I realize the experience is like visiting another country: the culture and the language are different and need to be understood before you can “fit in” and be truly welcomed.  Having a “local” as a guide and collaborator is essential.  And, as with travel, it is important to refrain from making judgments as to how things are done “over there.”

You might be lucky enough to find a CPST among the school transportation personnel to partner with you.  If not, be sure to seek out a guide who can complement your CPS knowledge with bus-specific wisdom.

Hands-on training—essential before you go

It is critical for CPSTs who do not come out of the school bus transportation field and who want to work cooperatively with school districts and child care centers to get further training. This should include learning more about “cultural awareness” as well as school bus-specific language and technical skills such as installing and adjusting the specialized CSRS used in buses.

NHTSA offers an eight hour course ,“Child Passenger Safety Restraint Systems on School Buses National Training.” This course, written primarily for school transportation professionals, is a must for CPSTs before they make the trip to their local school district office. It offers the bonus of six CEUs for CPSTs.

The NHTSA training is given in some states and at some national conferences (see www.saferidenews.com for a list).  There are two upcoming classes: in Reno, NV, on July 24–25, at the STN Expo, and in Fort Worth, TX, on August 25, at the KIM Conference. 

A bonus of the KIM training, cosponsored by Safe Ride News, is that it is specifically for CPSTs, so it will be streamlined to avoid duplication about correct use of conventional CRs.  It also will include a discussion of working in your community with your school district on school transportation issues.  All attendees will get a copy of the Handbook.

I hope to see some of you there!