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A 3News investigation into school bus inspections found there are some Northeast Ohio districts with a high percentage of failing inspections.
Our team sorted through dozens of inspection reports, finding all kinds of violations. And while many districts’ fleets pass with flying colors, reports show there are others that need a fine tune-up.
When you take a deeper dive in between the grinding gears of school buses you’ll find they’re complex.
A nearly 130-page manual from the Ohio’s State Highway Patrol motor vehicle inspector details how every screw, sticker and alarm must be in place for a bus to transport a student.
“We have a team of motor vehicle inspectors who conduct school bus inspections on a regular basis,” explains Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) Motor Vehicle Inspector Justin Dement. “Each school bus will be inspected per our construction standards and make sure that they maintain federal regulations.”
In part one of our investigation, we reported what types of violations a bus can receive:
- A minor violation
- Out of service violation
- Pupil Transportation Suspended Violation
3News obtained dozens of state bus inspections for Northeast Ohio school districts, finding many fleets don’t have passing grades.
To better understand the process of what it takes to maintain a school bus fleet and its inspections, we reached out to three area districts with the lowest percentages, according to the reports: Olmsted Falls City Schools, Ravenna School District and East Cleveland City Schools.
Our investigation found since June, 14% of Ravenna school district buses weren’t operable because of pupil transportation violations. Plus, 7% were flagged for service violations.
According to reports, violations included emergency exit doors not propping open, emergency windows not alarming when open, leaking steering boxes, rotting battery boxes, horns not sounding properly, and broken exhaust pipes.
In Olmsted Falls, reports show state inspectors flagged 57% of the district’s buses for out of service violations, such as heaters not working on buses -- for some buses, more than one heater -- multiple emergency exits not alarming on a single bus, and loose mirrors.
In the East Cleveland School District, one of the state’s poorest districts, inspection reports show for the last year, 45% of their bus inspections didn’t pass due to violations including holes in firewalls, air conditioning systems not working properly, mismatched warning lights, and aerosol cans on the bus.
3News investigates reached out to all three districts. After multiple attempts, all districts denied our requests for interviews.
Instead, the superintendent for the Ravenna School District, Laura Herbert, told us in an email that the district employees two bus mechanics who handle repairs and that the district has extra buses for use as back up.
Jim Lloyd, the superintendent for Olmsted Falls City Schools, wrote in an email that if any buses fail inspection, the district has “mechanics in our bus garage to do what is needed.”
An East Cleveland spokesperson and superintendent, Dr. Henry Pettigrew, both denied and ignored multiple requests.
The state inspector said there is no ‘cap’ for the mileage of a school bus. Adding that if a bus passes inspection, it can transport students.
To check to see how your district’s fleet checks out, click here.
Watch Part 1 of our series below:
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