New school bus alert system to keep kids from being left behind

New school bus alert system to keep kids from being left behind

MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. - UPDATE 2/27/2019 6:00 p.m.  A new feature is set to be in all school buses this Friday, or at least it should be according to a new law.

It's a child safety alert system to make sure drivers don't leave students behind at the end of the day.

It's called the Paul Lee School Bus Safety Law, named after a 19-year-old special needs student found dead in 2015 after being left in a bus for nine hours in 90-degree heat. The bus driver didn't check the bus before parking in the school yard in Whittier. The hope is that something that tragic never happens again.

At least one Central Coast school district says they're already on it. In a statement to KION, the Alisal Union School District says all of their buses that are currently in active use have the safety device.

They say some of their spare buses that aren't used regularly still need to be updated but will be in the coming days.

Gary Dodson, the manager of Fleet Maintenance for the Elk Grove Unified School District in Northern California, gave a breakdown of how the system works: 

"[The] driver would pull into the yard, shut the key off, walk to the back of the bus checking all the seats and under the seats to make sure no one's left in the bus," Dodson said, "We come [to the back of the bus] and depress a button and you hear the horn honk to let you know that you disarmed the system."

If a driver forgets to check the bus, the horn honks and school administrators get an email.

No one is more grateful about the new law taking effect than Paul Lee's mother, she says she's thankful California is taking action to keep kids safe and keep other parents from the suffering she's had to endure.

"The signing of this bill is a warm hug from heaven," she says, "I love you [Paul] and I miss you, I'll see you in heaven."

PREVIOUS STORY: A new law is set to go into effect Friday requiring all California school buses to be equipped with special devices to keep a child from being left behind.

The law was made after 19-year-old special needs student Paul Lee was found dead in Whittier after being left in a school bus for nine hours in 90-degree heat back in 2015.

Tonight at 5 and 6 KION's Zach Fuentes has a look at the system lawmakers hope will help prevent another tragedy.


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