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After Death of 5-Year-Old, Rigorous Bus Rules

By Annie Gilbertson | Published 25 Aug 2011 08:35am | comments
Buses line-up outside Casey Elementary in Jackson

It's now safer for Mississippi children who take a bus to school. Nathan's Law, which when into effect in July, mandated harsher penalties for passing buses and created The Mississippi School Bus Safety Task Force.  MPB's education reporter, Annie Gilbertson, joined the new task force at their inaugural meeting and explains what the group hopes to accomplish.

It was 2009 when 5-year-old Nathan Key was struck and killed while getting off his school bus in Jones County.  Since that day, Lori and Andy Key carried on their son’s memory, working to protect all kids traveling to and from school.

Lori Key says they will continue to push for reform even after lawmakers mandated a 30-ft buffer zone around buses and prohibited drivers from using cell phones while driving, amongst other rules. She says this task force for will continue to ensure safety.

L. Key: “It’s just more of the implementation of Nathan’s Law in hopes we can make things much safer for the children of Mississippi.”

Leonard Swilley, Mississippi Department of Education Director of Pupil Transportation, says its crucial to continue looking critically at bus safety.

Swilley: “The day begins and ends with school transportation. So it’s always an appropriate time to talk about safety and enhance safety in any way we can.”

Members of the task force voiced ideas centered around increasing the involvement of law enforcement and placing more restrictions on how students get on and off the bus. Andy Key, Nathan's father, says the new committee, made up of education and transportation officials in addition to the Keys, is well positioned to research and recommend new procedures.

A.   Key: “And everybody seems to be really focused on doing something. That has been one of my biggest stresses, when things don’t happen and it lags around and drags for whatever reason.”

The task force will make new bus safety recommendations by the end of the year.

From the Southern Education Desk, for MPB News, I'm Annie Gilbertson.

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Buses line-up outside Casey Elementary in Jackson


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