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Lawmakers push school bus safety bill after fatality

Nearly a year after a special needs student died in Whittier after being left in a sweltering bus parked with its windows closed, state lawmakers on Friday sent the governor a bill that would require new safety steps for school bus drivers.

Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) named his bill after Hun Joon “Paul” Lee, 19, a student at Sierra Adult School who could not verbally communicate and needed special care.

"No parent should fear that their child will not return home safely at the end of the day,” Mendoza said. "My hope is that SB 1072 will prevent future tragedies by requiring every school bus in the state to be equipped with a child-safety alarm system.”

The measure requires school buses, youth buses and child care motor vehicles to be equipped by the 2018-19 school year with alert systems that force drivers to manually disarm or scan an alarm at the rear of the bus before exiting the bus.

The bill also requires school districts to improve the training of drivers to avoid students being left on buses alone and requires notification of the Department of Motor Vehicles of some incidents involving students being left behind.

The body of a special needs student was found on a school bus in a district parking lot in Whittier on Sept. 11, 2015. (KTLA-TV Channel 5)
The body of a special needs student was found on a school bus in a district parking lot in Whittier on Sept. 11, 2015. (KTLA-TV Channel 5)

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