Student safety takes a back seat to rideshare profits
Today, CSEA put out a press release with the following statement on news that our sponsored Senate Bill 878 (Skinner) will no longer be moving forward this year.
San Jose, CA – The California School Employees Association released the following statement on Senate Bill 878 (Skinner), which will no longer be moving forward as it will be placed on the inactive file.
“The California School Employees Association, on behalf of the quarter million classified school employees we represent, is extremely disappointed that the Assembly Appropriations Committee refused to prioritize student safety over rideshare company profits. Senate Bill 878 (Skinner) would have ensured that all taxpayer-funded drivers who provide home-to-school transportation meet requirements to keep students safe.
“While funding for SB 878 was included in this year's state budget, the important provisions regarding minimum qualifications for all drivers to address child safety remained in the bill. These requirements, which mirror some of what the state already requires of school bus drivers, include: first aid certification, background checks, DMV record checks, drug and alcohol testing, and training to handle emergencies and work with students with disabilities.
“Our school bus drivers meet all these requirements and more. Shouldn’t every driver who is paid by taxpayer dollars to transport students, including those who work for rideshare companies, meet the minimum standards outlined in SB 878 to protect child passengers?
“Rideshare companies complain that these safety standards will drive up the costs of hiring drivers who meet these minimum requirements, but their profits should not be our concern, especially when school districts have been required to employ only drivers who meet these safety standards for decades. With the new funding for school transportation that CSEA successfully secured, school districts can afford to offer competitive wages and benefits to hire drivers in hard-to-fill positions without sacrificing student safety.
“The student safety provisions of SB 878, which had bipartisan support throughout the legislative process before arriving in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, were gutted through the California Legislature's opaque suspense file process that allows dramatic changes to a bill while the public and even the sponsors and author of the bill are left in the dark. This unilateral authority is the definition of undemocratic and deserves no place in our legislative process. We thank Senator Skinner and her team for the great partnership this past year, and we look forward to the next legislative session when we hope the legislature will finally prioritize student safety above corporate profits.”