Frequently Asked Questions
Who is eligible for school bus transportation?
The South Carolina Department of Education has codified school bus regulations into state law. The law states transportation on general education school bus routes is authorized for public school pupils who live 1.5 miles or greater from their school. Distances are measured from the home address to the school address via surface streets. Public school pupils include pre-kindergarten through twelfth-grade students. Parents of students attending schools with special permission from outside the attendance zone are responsible for providing the student’s transportation.
Are parents permitted to ride the bus to and from school if they do not have transportation?
No. Transportation on regular school buses is authorized for public school pupils only. A parent is not covered under any insurance provisions nor is it in the best interest of other children. Parents may ride the bus to and from school when engaged in “volunteer” work within the school during the school day. This request must be submitted to and approved by the school principal, then forwarded to the Transportation Department. This service may be provided on a space-available basis only.
Can a student be picked up or dropped off at an alternate address, including daycare centers on a recurring basis?
Yes. Parents/guardians may request this service during registration and supply the pertinent at that time. During the school year, parents/guardians must request permission for the student to be delivered to the alternate address from the school principal, regardless of temporary or permanent request. In either case, the school will complete an Official Bus Rider Verification Form with the required information including the alternate address and duration of the alternate arrangement. To be considered, (1) students must be eligible for school bus service and (2) the alternate address must be within the school’s attendance zone. This is a space available service with priority given to students assigned to the specific bus serving their home neighborhoods.
How are bus stops established, eliminated, or changed?
In accordance with state law, students may be required to walk up to a three tenths (0.3) of a mile to the nearest bus stop. For students whose walking distance to the bus stop is greater than 0.3 miles, additional stops will be added in accordance with state regulations. Distances are measured from the home entrance via surface streets to the bus stop. Parents/guardians requesting additional or changed bus stop locations may contact the Transportation Department for consideration.
Safe bus stops on each route may not be closer than two tenths of a mile to one another. Bus stops must have a clear visibility of 600 feet in each direction or a “School Bus Stop Ahead” sign must be located at a point 600 feet in each direction from a designated stop. Examples of unsafe stop locations are blind curves, steep grades, near crests of hills or other locations with hazardous traffic conditions. There are certain locations where a bus turnabout (a backing turn, followed by reversal of travel direction) is required. However, this should be the last options. Backing a school bus should be avoided unless no other safe option exists.
Why can’t the school bus come down my road? Are buses permitted to travel on private roads?
In addition to student eligibility rules, school buses are only allowed to travel on roadways that assure the safe transport of students. Safety is determined by the ability of the school bus to meet and pass another vehicle of equal size, and the roadway must be constructed sufficiently to avoid damaging the school bus or creating the potential for an accident. The quality of the roadway during bad weather also must be taken into consideration. The safety of the students must receive the top priority. South Carolina school buses are intended for use on public roadways only. However, if a request is made to enter onto a private roadway, (1) the Transportation Department must determine the safety and maneuverability of the bus entering the area and (2) the owner of the private roadway must provide written authorization for use and complete a notarized “Release of Liability.”
What is the process to have newly enrolled students assigned to a school bus?
Any new student must be enrolled in a school, live in the school’s attendance zone, and meets the previously-described eligibility criteria. During registration, the school will collect the required information and ensure it is entered into PowerSchool, including AM and PM transportation modes, correct address (or alternate address, if applicable). The district school bus routing program will receive the information from PowerSchool nightly and will write the assigned school bus number back into PowerSchool, provided the student meets the eligibility criteria and information is properly entered into the system. After initial registration and during the school year, the school will complete the Official Bus Rider Verification Form as described previously, furnish the bus driver a copy, and notify the parent/student of the assigned bus route number.
Why don’t school buses have seat belts?
School buses in South Carolina are designed and manufactured to protect students based on the compartmentalization theory. This means bus seats are precisely spaced, heavily padded, and raised to protect the student. In addition, the exterior construction is designed to prevent the penetration of objects into the passenger area or the collapse of the roof.
What can I do to make my child’s trip to school safe?
Accompany or arrange for an adult to accompany your child to the school bus stop and wait for the school bus to arrive. The same is true in the afternoon. Be at the school bus stop when the bus arrives and accompany your child home. State law places the responsibility for a child’s safety on the parent until the school bus arrives at the bus stop in the morning, and after the bus leaves the site in the afternoon. It will also help to become familiar with school bus safety rules and spend time to ensure your students understands their importance and the need to follow them.
When are emergency evacuation drills conducted? Who must participate?
Federal law requires them at least twice during the school year for each student who is transported in a school bus. Instruction must include safe riding practices and participation in Emergency Evacuation Drills. Drills should be conducted within the first two months of school for the first semester and before Spring Break during the second semester. Pre-K - 1st grade students should receive “hands-on” safety training to include evacuation drills within the first weeks of the school year.
Can a student assigned to one route ride another route on a particular day to or from school?
Yes, depending on the request and specific circumstances. The process is the same as described above using the Official Bus Rider Verification Form.
What is the maximum ride time for my child?
State law does not limit the ride time or distance. Although it is rare for a route to be longer than 1 hour and 15 minutes, this does sometimes occur, especially when transportation is provided out of the zoned school area, for example when transporting to or from a specialized school shared among neighboring school districts. The Transportation Department routes bus runs as efficiently as possible within the limits of the school bus fleet resources.
Why can’t I get on the bus to talk to the bus driver?
State law does not allow parents or other adults to board a school bus or impede its progress in any way. This law protects the safety of students and helps assure that routes run on time. If a parent has a concern, the parent should communicate with the Transportation Department.
Are coaches, teachers, or chaperones on field trips authorized to carry their own children on the buses?
Only the principal may authorize field trip participants. A teacher, chaperone or coach allowing unauthorized participants to ride the bus incurs personal liability and liability for the school district are liable for any injury or claims.
Can students be required to sit in a designated school bus seat?
Yes. Assigned seats are mandatory in Dorchester District Two and have been mandated by the South Carolina Department of Education for the 20-21 school year.
Can a bus driver suspend a student from the bus?
No. School bus drivers are responsible for maintaining order in accordance with the District’s Discipline Code. The safety and well-being of each student depend on following the standards of discipline outlined by the District. School bus drivers must be able to concentrate on driving at all times. Even momentary distraction can lead to a serious accident. State law requires the driver to report discipline and safety infractions to the school principal. The reports are referred to school administrators for appropriate action, including suspensions for misbehavior and safety infractions or termination of school bus privileges for repeated or severe infractions.