MN news: Training But No Physicals or Drug Tests for Non-School Bus Driver School Employees

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(April 27, 2009) — School employees not originally hired as drivers will not have to submit to a physical examination or drug testing, following a bill signed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty last week.

The measure, was seen as a correction to a law signed last year that required all drivers of Type III vehicles, school transportation vehicles other than school buses often used in extracurricular and sports trips, to undergo physical examinations, drug and alcohol checks, and safety training. But some complained the requirements were too costly and may have discriminated against drivers of deaf students.

Under the new law, which takes effect immediately, anyone who drives must still complete the required safety training that includes vehicle operation, student behavior, safe loading and unloading, and other topics.
Some thought the revised measure went too far in withdrawing requirements. In January, when the measure was first proposed, Shelly Jonas, executive administrator of the Minnesota School Bus Operators Association, said employees who drive should not be exempted from drug and alcohol testing.

Meanwhile, Brad Lundell, the lobbyist for the Minnesota Association for Pupil Transportation, thanked MAPT members who worked on the legislation.

"This legislation is the result of a lot of hard work by a number of public education groups and the Department of Public Safety (DPS) in remedying the issues that arose due in part to DPS’s interpretation of the initial law after the 2008 legislative session," Lundell said. "It is not universally embraced as making school transportation safer, but it was clearly something that the major players in the education community wanted to see passed."