The Oregon Department of Education issued a rule allowing a permanent variance for the use of motorcoaches by schools and school districts, reversing an earlier decision to ban their use for activity travel over safety concerns.
The ensuing protests from athletic coaches to activity directors across the state led to a temporary six-month variance for motorcoaches.
Motorcoach operators and industry associations, including the American Bus Association, provided documents from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board that they said showed the safety of motorcoach travel.
The rule, published in the secretary of state's monthly "Oregon Bulletin" on Dec. 1, sets out requirements for school districts wishing to request the use of motorcoaches. According to the rule, schools that want to contract with a motorcoach carrier must forward an "Appeal for Variance for Motor Coaches" to the state superintendent of public instruction.
The appeal must explain the need for the use of motorcoaches and the reason a standard school bus will not suffice, plus list information identifying and certifying the carrier (including proof of passing state safety inspections and assurance that drivers used by the carrier have passed a criminal background check).
The rule also states that the superintendent of public instruction may place safety-related and other conditions on the school or school district requesting the variance, may limit the time period for which the variance is granted and may delegate the duties of the superintendent under this rule to an employee of the Department of Education.
To read the full text of the rule, visit http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/rules/1207_Bulletin/1207_ch581_bulletin.html.