Senator Kristin Corrado and Senator Jon Bramnick sponsor legislation, advanced today by the Senate Transportation Committee, to require additional safeguards on school buses transporting New Jersey’s most vulnerable students.
Sen. Kristin Corrado was joined by Emma Love and her parents as legislation to require additional safeguards on school buses transporting New Jersey’s most vulnerable students advanced. (SenateNJ.com)
The legislation, S-57, was prompted after a non-verbal New Jersey teenager with severe autism and epilepsy was forced to endure an almost day-long bus ride when a driver unfamiliar with the usual route became lost.
“I can’t imagine how it would feel for a mother to know her child, unable to communicate by traditional means, felt frightened, trapped, lost and abandoned on a school vehicle,” said Senator Corrado (R-40). “A school bus should be a safe place for all students, but in this case, it became a psychological horror ride. This bill would take steps to ensure it never happens again.”
The bill would require any school vehicle with one or more special needs students to be equipped with a video camera on the interior of the bus, a GPS providing information about the location and speed of each school bus in real time, and two-way communication equipment.
“As Legislators, we must always remain focused on the safety and well-being of students,” said Senator Bramnick (R-21), who initially sponsored the legislation in the Assembly in 2019. “Students with special needs require unique considerations and solutions. The crucial upgrades mandated by this bill can be completed reasonably, and the benefits can be unfathomable.”
Senators Corrado and Bramnick sponsor the bill, but Jennifer Love of Cranford has been the primary advocate since her non-verbal daughter, Emma, was traumatized by the confusing bus ride three years ago. After the driver took the bus to Camden, with Emma and four other non-verbal passengers, police escorted the vehicle back to the school, five hours later.
“This law will give the voice that all special needs individuals deserve in terms of their safety. It also gives peace of mind for all their caregivers, and that is priceless,” Love said.
Emma Love is now 20 years old, and she attended today’s meeting with her mother.