CLEVELAND — SUBMIT A TIP: Is there an issue in your community that you feel we need to be aware of? Share it with our 3Investigates team by emailing email@example.com.
School buses are everyday vessels we trust to take our children to and from the classroom, but have you ever considered how safe those buses really are?
Just like your car, school buses have to undergo inspections. According to the Ohio State Motor Vehicle Inspector, there are thousands of buses to inspect and records to go along with them.
3News Investigates found dozens of school buses in Northeast Ohio aren’t passing inspections.
They’re like decorations for the seasons and when you see them on the road you know school is back in session.
As the school year sets off, we wanted to know: What does it take to get the 10-ton behemoth school buses ready for the road?
So we went to where it all begins: the mechanic shop.
“We have a team of motor vehicle inspectors who conduct school bus inspections on a regular basis,” explained Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) Motor Vehicle Inspector Justin Dement.
Under Ohio policy, there are three types of inspection: annually, spot, or new.
Every school bus in Ohio must be inspected least twice a year, according to the school bus standards and inspection manual.
“We have approximately 20,000 school buses in the state of Ohio [and] approximately 40,000 school bus inspections,” Dement said.
A bus can receive three types of violations:
- A minor violation, such as cracked mirrors and missing items like a first aid kit.
- An out of service violation, such as multiple broken heaters and power steering leaks.
- A pupil transportation suspended violation, such as emergency windows not alarming when open.
If a bus receives an out of service or pupil transportation violation, it cannot transport students until the violation is up to standards.
“They have to have those repaired immediately before the bus can be placed back on the road and before they can transport students,” Dement said.
According to Dement, minor and out of service violations must be repaired within 15 days. A pupil transportation violation, the most serious violation that holds the most safety value, according to Dement, doesn’t have a repair time frame.
For example, if a pupil transportation violation requires new parts for repair, the state does not hold the district to a deadline for the repair. The repair must happen and pass another inspection before being placed on the road.
3News obtained dozens of state bus inspections for Northeast Ohio school districts, finding many fleets don’t have passing grades.
Recent reports from the OSHP show between June and August of this year, three northeast Ohio schools districts had some of the highest inspection violations.
The report breaks down inspection violation by percentages.
According to the report, 17% of Ravenna school districts buses weren’t operable because of pupil transportation violations. Seven percent were flagged with out of service violations, according to the report.
In the Olmsted Falls School District, 57% of their six bus inspections received out of service violations.
You can read the report for inspections from June to August 2022 below:
(Note: Reports change monthly. This report reflects percentages only from June to August 2022.)
In East Cleveland, one of the state’s poorest districts, a report from June 2021 to August 2022 showed that 45% of the district’s 31 bus inspections didn’t pass inspection.
You can read the report from June 2021 to August 2022 below.
“We do this to make sure that students are properly safe and making sure that they get where they need to be to and from school,” Dement said.
According to the OSHP, some districts own their own fleets, while others contract with companies from out of state. Either way, any bus driving in Ohio must pass a state inspection.
In part two of our investigation airing Thursday evening, 3News takes a deeper dive into the issues that caused the violation and school district’s responses.
More from 3News Investigates:
- 3News Investigates: Cleveland Browns star Myles Garrett stopped 6 times for speeding prior to crash
- 3News Investigates: Olympic bronze medalist boxer Oshae Jones demands apology from police following controversial arrest
- 3News Investigates: Only 3% of sexual assaults reported by Cedar Point workers have ended with an arrest
At 3News, we are committed to sharing the stories that matter most to you. That means recognizing real problems and offering real solutions.
Is there an issue in your community that you feel we need to be aware of? Share it with our 3Investigates team via the form below.
We’ll work to find answers to your questions, verify the truth, help you make informed decisions because what’s important to you, matters to us.