The National School District has installed in its fleet of 10 school buses new alert systems intended to ensure students are not left behind at the end of a route.
The Child Check-Mate System is designed to prompt bus drivers to sweep the interior for any children before exiting.
When the engine is turned off, the interior lights are automatically illuminated. Drivers are supposed to walk to the rear of the bus to deactivate the system.
If a driver opens a door while the system is activated, the horn will sound for 30 minutes or until the system is deactivated.
The upgrades were made to comply with state regulations that required school districts to install child safety alert systems prior to the 2018-19 school year.
The Paul Lee School Bus Safety Law was passed in 2016. It is named after Hoon Jun “Paul” Lee, a 19-year-old autistic student who died a year earlier in Los Angeles County after he was left behind on a school bus on a hot day.
“The fact is, drivers may get complacent and there may be a day when they do not walk to the back of the bus to check for a sleeping child, and that could be the day a child is there,” said Antonio Perez, director of transportation for the National School District. “That is why this system is important.”
The district’s procedures require bus drivers to sweep buses at the end of a route and again when the buses returns to the district’s facility. Bus attendants also are on board on each route and must ensure students are not left behind, Perez said.
He said it is on bus drivers — not anyone else — to deactivate the new alert systems.
The National School District paid $8,000 to purchase and install the systems.
The district serves about 5,600 students across 11 elementary schools and a preschool in National City.
Phone: (619) 293-1876