Legislation recently introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives would allow school districts and private schools to use an organization other than the Michigan State Police to inspect their bus fleets, as well as eliminate the requirement that each school bus be inspected annually by the state’s law enforcement agency.
House Bills (HBs) 4549 and 4550, introduced by state Rep. Richard LeBlanc (D-Westland) and referred to the House Education Committee, would add language to the Pupil Transportation Act (Public Act 187 of 1990) that would allow districts to use either the Michigan State Police or some “other inspecting organization” to make sure the district or a school’s buses are up to snuff.
Staff in LeBlanc’s office said the legislation would allow school districts to prioritize school bus inspections at the local level.
State Rep. Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield, Commerce, Wolverine Lake), who serves on the House Education Committee, said she hasn’t yet reviewed the legislation, but did say that she would need to know “who is inspecting (buses) and what are their qualifications” to inspect them before she formulates a stance on the bills.
Michigan’s school buses currently undergo a 198-point inspection each year, beginning Sept. 1 and ending Aug. 31. State inspections are required annually through the Public Transportation Act of 1990. An inspection may be conducted at any time and at any location, on or off a school site, and as frequently as Michigan State Police officials consider necessary to ensure passenger safety.
The State Police Motor Carrier Division’s Bus Inspection Unit is currently responsible for the state-mandated annual inspection of every public, private, denominational, parochial, and charter school vehicle transporting pupils to or from school or a school-related activity.
School districts currently don’t have to pay for the inspections. At this time, the bus inspection funding is allocated to the Michigan Department of Education, which remits it back to the Michigan State Police.
There have been past attempts to make Michigan school districts responsible for school bus inspection costs, including a push by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2005 to change mandatory bus inspections to a voluntary program. The state House eventually rejected Granholm’s recommendation that funding for mandatory school bus inspections be eliminated.