House Bill No. 523
Introduced By mcculloch, cocchiarella, bohlinger, hibbard
A Bill for an Act entitled: An Act clarifying the penalties for a violation of school transportation law or board of public education transportation policy; authorizing the trustees of a district to inform the county transportation committee of a district believed to be operating an unapproved route outside its district boundaries; and amending sections
20-10-104 and 20-10-126, MCA.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Montana:
Section 1. Section 20-10-104, MCA, is amended to read:
"20-10-104. Penalty for violating law or rules. (1) Every district, its trustees and employees, and every person under a
transportation contract with a district
shall be is subject to the policies prescribed by the board of public education and the
rules prescribed by the superintendent of public instruction. When a district knowingly violates a transportation law or
board of public education transportation policy, such the district shall forfeit any reimbursement otherwise payable under
20-10-145 and 20-10-146 for any bus miles actually traveled during that fiscal year in violation of such the law or policies.
(2) A district knowingly violates a transportation law or board of public education policy when it operates a bus route in a manner that does not comply with state law or board policy related to student safety. As provided in 20-10-141(1), a district that operates a bus route not approved by its county transportation committee may not receive transportation reimbursement on that route, but if the route is operated in compliance with transportation law, the operation of the routes is not a violation that will result in the forfeiture of all transportation aid to the district.
(3) The county superintendent shall suspend all
such reimbursements payable to the district under 20-10-145 and
20-10-146 for all miles being traveled, including both miles being traveled in compliance with the transportation laws or
policies and miles being traveled in violation of the transportation laws or policies, until the district corrects the violation.
When the district corrects the violation, the county superintendent shall resume paying reimbursements to the district pay
all reimbursements otherwise payable under 20-10-145 and 20-10-146, including amounts suspended during the violation,
but the amount forfeited under subsection (1) may not be paid to the district. (2)(4) When a person operating a bus under contract with a district knowingly fails to comply with the transportation law
or the board of public education transportation policies, the district may not pay him the person for any bus miles traveled
during the contract year in violation of such law or policies. Upon discovering such a violation, the trustees of the district
shall give written notice to the person that unless the violation is corrected within 10 days of the giving of notice, the
contract will be canceled. The trustees of a district shall order the operation of a bus operated under contract suspended
when the bus is being operated in violation of transportation law or policies and the trustees find that such the violation
jeopardizes the safety of pupils."
Section 2. Section 20-10-126, MCA, is amended to read:
"20-10-126. Establishment of transportation service areas. (1) The territory of a transportation service area is the territory of a school district unless the county transportation committee approves alternative boundaries after determining that the adjustments will improve pupil safety, transportation efficiency, or the cost-effectiveness of the pupil transportation system of the county.
(2) A district may not extend a bus route to transport pupils from outside its transportation service area unless the district has a written agreement with the district that the county transportation committee has assigned to transport the pupils.
(3) When the trustees of two or more districts enter into a written agreement to authorize transportation services among transportation service areas, a copy of the agreement must be submitted to the county superintendent and approved by the county transportation committee. Upon approval by the committee, the transportation agreements are valid for the current school year.
(4) The trustees of any district who object to a particular bus route or transportation service area to which the district has been assigned may request a transfer to another bus route or transportation service area. The county transportation committee may transfer the territory of the district to an adjacent transportation service area or approved bus route with the consent of the district providing transportation in the adjacent transportation service area.
(5) The trustees of any district who object to a bus route operated by another district may bring that route to the attention of the county transportation committee. If the committee agrees that the district is operating a portion of its route as an unapproved route outside of its district boundaries, the committee shall file with the district a written warning concerning the unapproved route, and if the district, in spite of the warning, continues to operate the route, the committee may withdraw its approval of the entire route.
(5)(6) If the qualified electors of the district object to the decision of the county transportation committee and the adjacent
district is willing to provide school bus service, 20% of the qualified electors, as prescribed in 20-20-301, may petition the
trustees to conduct an election on the proposition that the territory of the district be transferred for pupil transportation
purposes to the adjacent transportation service area. If a satisfactory petition is presented to the trustees, the trustees shall
call an election on the proposition in accordance with 20-20-201 for the next ensuing regular school election day. The
election must be conducted in accordance with the school election laws. If a majority of those voting at the election approve
the transfer, the transfer is effective on July 1 of the ensuing school fiscal year. (6)(7) Unless a transfer of territory from one transportation service area or approved bus route to another area or bus route
is approved by the superintendent of public instruction and the county transportation committee, the state transportation
reimbursement is limited to the reimbursement amount for pupil transportation to the nearest operating public elementary
school or public high school, whichever is appropriate for the affected pupils."