DPS Corner

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    DPS

    ESC Region 11 is in close contact with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). Information will be posted to the DPS page as it becomes available regarding drivers with expired cards, etc. Please check the DPS Corner often.

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March 2020

  • As a result of COVID-19, it is necessary to implement the following temporary extension dates related to school bus driver enrollment, certification, and medical card expiration dates. Be advised, full implementation as stated in 37 TAC, Part 1, Chapter 14, Subchapters B & C will resume back to regular business upon the conclusion of the COVID-19 pandemic. A follow-up email will be sent out when this occurs.

    Enrollment cards:

    An enrollment card displaying an expired date will be considered valid if both of these conditions are met:

    1. The expiration date on the enrollment card is on or after March 13, 2020; AND

    2. The expired date is within 60 days of the end of the State of Disaster, which will be the date the department provides public notice that normal issuance procedures have resumed.

    Any driver with an enrollment card that does not fall within these conditions can be issued a 2nd enrollment card but only if approved by the service center.

    Please remember that enrollment cards are to only be issued to drivers enrolled in the next available certification course, not the recertification course.   

    Certification and/or Recertification cards:

    A certification and/or recertification card displaying an expired date will be considered valid if both of these conditions are met:

    1.  The expiration date on the certification/recertification card is on or after March 13, 2020; AND

    2.  The expired date is within 60 days of the end of the State of Disaster, which will be the date the department provides public notice that normal issuance procedures have resumed.

    With several ESCs offering recertification courses online, please encourage folks to take advantage of that opportunity. I predict there will be a significant backlog of classes and this will help with classroom availability. For those that are taking the online course, the course must be completed within the 14 days but only the proctored test is temporarily being waived to be administered outside of the 14 days. Therefore, the proctored test must be administered within 60 days of the end of the State of Disaster. If a driver starts the online course, they must complete it online or restart the whole thing over in a classroom course. No online course will be transferred to a classroom course.

    Medical cards:

    For drivers that are certified to the Non-Excepted category (which requires them to submit their medical card to DPS), the department has suspended the automatic downgrade of a CDL if the driver has not provided a current medical certificate. If drivers choose to proceed with their physical and obtain a current medical certificate, they can still submit the certificate to the department by email CDLMedCert@dps.texas.gov or by fax 512-424-2002.

    For drivers certified to both the excepted and non-excepted categories, a medical card displaying an expired date will be considered valid if both of these conditions are met:

    1.  The expiration date on the medical card is on or after March 13, 2020; AND

    2.  The expired date is within 60 days of the end of the State of Disaster, which will be the date the department provides public notice that normal issuance procedures have resumed.

    For information regarding CDL testing, please visit the DPS website at the following link: https://www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/covid-19.htm

    I greatly appreciate everyone’s patience and support during this difficult time. Together we will get through this and hopefully resume to normal again soon. Until then, I hope everyone stays safe and positive. Most importantly, let’s keep the faith. Please don’t hesitate to contact me directly if you have any questions or concerns.

    Sincerely,

    Christie Hebert

    Texas Department of Public Safety

    Texas Highway Patrol Division

    School Bus Transportation Program

    (512) 424-7396


February 2020

  • Good afternoon ESCs,

    There has been an update (effective 9/1/2019) to the cell phone law while operating a school bus. Under Texas Transportation Code - 545.425(c), the law still states that an operator may not use a wireless communication device while operating a school bus with a minor passenger on the bus unless the bus is stopped.

    Subsection (e-1) has now been added to allow for a wireless communication device to be used but in a manner similar to using a two-way radio. I repeat, in a manner that is similar to using a two-way radio.

    Click the link to read the transportation code with the highlighted areas that pertain to school bus drivers.

    Please forward this information to your instructors so that they may pass the information on in the certification and recertification classes.

    Feel free to contact my office if you have any questions.

     

    Thank you,

    Christie Hebert

    Texas Department of Public Safety

    Texas Highway Patrol Division

    School Bus Transportation Program

    (512) 424-7396

    USE OF WIRELESS COMMUNICATION DEVICE

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October 2019

  • Beginning January 6, 2020, all school districts and all employers of CDL holders (charter schools, trucking companies, bus charter companies, government entities, etc.) and all CDL holders (includes school bus drivers and white fleet drivers who hold a CDL) will be required to register in the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

    The Clearinghouse is a secure online database that will give employers, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), state driver licensing agencies, and state law enforcement personnel real-time information about Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) holders’ drug and alcohol program violations.

    The Clearinghouse will contain records of violation of drug and alcohol prohibitions in 49 CFR Part 382, Subpart B, including positive drug or alcohol test results and test refusals. When a driver completes the return-to-duty process and follow-up testing plan, this information will also be recorded in the Clearinghouse.

    Employers will be required to run a query on all new hires who either have a CDL or will be applying for a CLP to get a CDL. Employers will also be required to run an annual query on all existing CDL holders.

    In addition to employers registering for the Clearinghouse, all CDL holders must register as well. CDL holders must give electronic consent to their employer(s) to run a query. CDL holders that have a second job driving a commercial motor vehicle that requires a CDL will also need to give that employer electronic consent to run a query as well. Please pass this information along to all drivers who hold a CDL so that they are aware of the Clearinghouse and registering.

    The FAQ section of the Clearinghouse website has a lot of helpful information so please refer to that if you have questions. For more information on the Clearinghouse, please visit https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/.

    IMPORTANT:  Please be advised that this is a federal rule required by FMCSA. It is not a state rule and definitely not a rule that my office is requiring. Federal rules trump all state rules, so everyone must comply. There are no exemptions from the Clearinghouse.

    Thank you,

    Christie Hebert

    Texas Department of Public Safety

    Texas Highway Patrol Division

    School Bus Transportation Program

    (512) 424-7396

    Comments (-1)

July 2019

  • My office has been educating troopers and other law enforcement agencies of what each school bus driver must have in order to be eligible to drive a school bus. If a driver is pulled over for whatever reason, the officer will be asking them for proof of certification. If the driver is not able to present either a valid Enrollment, Certification, or Recertification card, they could be ticketed for not having proof they are certified. Please be sure you are reminding the districts in your area that their drivers must carry the card at all times and cannot drive until they have that card in their possession.

    If a transportation director has not received bus cards from the ESC in a timely manner (two-three weeks maximum in the summer), then they need to follow up with the ESC.

    Transportation directors, when a driver signs up for a recertification class, you must verify that the driver is eligible to take the recertification class. We recently had a driver take a recertification class and was issued the recertification card. The driver had been expired for almost two years.

    As always, thank y'all for everything you do! Please don’t hesitate to email or call me if you ever have any questions.

    Thanks again,

    Christie Hebert

    Texas Department of Public Safety

    Texas Highway Patrol Division

    School Bus Transportation Program

    (512) 424-7396

    Comments (-1)

May 2019

  • With more and more school districts purchasing smaller buses, I wanted to send the following information to address the requirements:

    • The only bus to be used to transport students home-to-school/school-to-home is the yellow school bus.
    • The white activity bus (or any other color that is not yellow) is NOT allowed to be used for home to school/school to home even if the bus is equipped with loading lights and a stop arm.

    CDL for all type buses regardless of the color - School Bus, Multi-Function School Activity Bus (MFSAB), School Activity Bus

    24 passengers including the driver or more – Class B CDL with proper endorsements.

    • P endorsement is required for all buses.
    • S endorsement is required for operating a school bus. To obtain the S endorsement, the driver must test on the yellow school bus.
    • S endorsement is not required for an MFSAB or activity bus.

    16 – 23 passengers including the driver – Class C CDL with proper endorsements.

    • P endorsement is required for all buses.
    • S endorsement is required for operating a school bus. To obtain the S endorsement, the driver must test on the yellow school bus.
    • S endorsement is not required for an MFSAB or activity bus.

    15 passengers including the driver or less – no CDL or endorsements required (endorsements only go on a CDL)

    20-Hour and 8-Hour Certification and Recertification Courses

    Applicable to all school bus drivers driving a school bus, MFSAB, and school activity bus, even if a CDL is not required.

    A student taking the course who does not have a CDL cannot drive the bus on a public roadway.

    Medical Card (annual physical)

    Applicable to all school bus drivers driving a school bus, MFSAB, and school activity bus, even if a CDL is not required.

    Bus Driver Penalty Points Tables

    Applicable to all drivers transporting students, regardless of the vehicle.

    This also includes a coach/teacher/driver who might be transporting students in the school district suburban, for example or any other passenger vehicle.

    Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

    Thanks, 

    Christie Hebert

    Texas Department of Public Safety

    Texas Highway Patrol Division

    School Bus Transportation Program

    (512) 424-7396

    Comments (-1)