Providing safe school bus transportation services for the Deer Park community is the core of what we do. The timely and safe delivery of students to and from school is a huge responsibility that requires the teamwork of many people. Bus drivers, mechanics, a dispatcher, and the transportation supervisor act as a team to accomplish safe transportation for all students every day.
Buses are inspected prior to leaving the transportation facility each day to insure that all mechanical and safety systems operate properly. In addition, regular preventative maintenance keeps the fleet in top condition. The Washington State Patrol inspects the entire fleet each summer and they also arrive unannounced during the winter and randomly inspect 25% of the fleet. Every bus driver in Deer Park is thoroughly trained and attend annual in-service classes to keep up to date with safety awareness. Each of our drivers hold commercial driver licenses and are subject to Washington State Patrol and FBI background checks. We transport thousands of children each and every day, and we’re proud of the efficiency and professionalism evident in our work.
Thank you for working with us to help ensure the safety of our students each and every day. If you have questions that aren’t answered in the FAQ below, please don’t hesitate to use the contact information to the right to call or email with your questions!
We’re frequently looking for people to join our team of DPSD drivers. We’ll work with you and pay for your training and certifications costs!
If you’re interested, please give Sonja Rosenthal a call at 464-5530.
The safety of our students is our top priority. For years, as drivers have picked-up students in the morning, it has been our practice to allow students to get on at stops other than their own. We certainly understand that families occasionally need to have their children stay with friends or relatives due to work or other schedules, and that in these circumstances, it’s easiest to have children ride to school on a bus other than their own.
We would like to continue this practice, but to help our drivers ensure the safety of the students on their bus, we will be asking that parents/guardians call the bus garage at 464-5530 to submit a request for their son/daughter to ride an alternate route. When calling please leave the student’s first and last name and the address of the approved stop (or even an approximate address) prior to the stop time. If the transportation office is closed, please feel free to leave a message with necessary information.
As in the past, any stop change for the afternoon routs must go through the appropriate school office so that the student has a bus pass from that school. Your help and partnership in keeping our children safe is greatly appreciated.
Eligibility for school bus transportation depends on where you live. According to Deer Park School District transportation policy (6600): The district may provide transportation to and from school for a student:
If a child uses a childcare facility (daycare), and that facility is both within the school attendance area the child attends and at a designated stop for their school, transportation will be provided to and from school. One mile walk zones are not unique to Deer Park Schools, in fact, similar rule are in effect at school district’s around the nation. Please see the walk zone question below for more information about one mile walk zones in Deer Park (including walk zone maps).
If you have questions about your child’s eligibility for school bus transportation, please contact Deer Park School District’s Transportation office at 464-5530, or e-mail Sonja Rosenthal at email@example.com. In order to provide accurate information concerning eligibility, we will need the exact address of the child’s residence or childcare facility.
Yes. As stated above in Deer Park School District’s Policy (6600), transportation may be provided for students whose walking route to school is hazardous; whose handicapping condition prevents him/her from walking or providing for his/her own welfare while walking; or, who has another compelling and legally sufficient reason to receive transportation services. Should you have questions about these criteria, please contact Deer Park School District’s Transportation office at 464-5530, or e-mail Sonja Rosenthal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are a few special rules that apply to K-2 students attending DPE. First, it is important to remember that kindergarten students MUST be met by a parent at the bus stop. If a parent (or guardian) is not at the bus stop when the bus arrives, the child must remain on the bus and will be taken back to the school – the school will attempt to get in touch with a parent/guardian. Alternately, if a parent or guardian will not be available to meet the bus, the child may bring a note to school allowing the student to get off with another student or adult at their designated stop.
Additionally, K-2 students living inside the DPE one mile walk zone may ride the bus as long as they use a previously designated bus stop. Deer Park Elementary sits in a location we consider to be potentially hazardous for our youngest walkers. We see high volumes of traffic at the intersection of Weber Rd. and “D” Street before and after school each day; it is not safe to expect our youngest children to navigate this busy intersection. Additionally, any volume of foot traffic at that busy intersection would only add further delays to an already congested intersection. Your child’s safety is our utmost concern.
Often, large percentages of a school’s enrolled students live in neighborhoods immediately surrounding the school. School walk zones exist to help school transportation services maximize efficiency and minimize taxpayer cost by having students within a one mile radius walk to school. While some form of the “school walk zone” rule has been in place for many years in districts across the nation, Washington’s legislators addressed the issue more formally in 2009. The 2009 Washington State legislature passed ESHB 2261 requiring school districts to establish official walk areas for every elementary school where children walk to school. Maps must be made available to all elementary school students and their parents. Also in the 2009 session, the legislators passed RCW 47.04.300 formalizing the Safe Routes to School Program. The program provides funding for local communities to increase the number of children walking and biking to school safely.
In 2010, the Washington State Dept. of Transportation and the Washington Traffic Safety Commission worked with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to create the School Walk and Bike Route Guide – a document explaining the laws and liabilities associated with school walk route plans and student pedestrian and bicycle safety as well as suggesting processes for developing and maintaining school walk and bike routes.
Deer Park School District convened a representative committee (parents, teachers, community members, local law enforcement, administration, and a school board member) in the 2010-2011 school year to formally study and establish walk zones for Deer Park Schools.
Here are links to Deer Park’s walk route maps:
The maps available in the links above were created by Deer Park’s Transportation Committee in 2011. The maps the committee created are far more “friendly” than the maps suggested by the State’s Student Transportation Allocation Reporting System (STARS) – CLICK HERE for access to STARS maps. If you have questions about the walk zone maps, would like to discuss hazardous conditions within walk zones, or need to submit an exception request for your child, please call Sonja Rosenthal (Deer Park’s transportation director) at 464-5530.
For students living in areas where bus transportation is not an option, the final decision about what is the most appropriate way to get a child safely to and from school must rest with the parent/guardian. You are the person most knowledgeable about the child’s abilities and you are in the best position to choose the safest and most appropriate means to get the child safely to and from school. Some options for consideration include: walking with a parent/guardian; walking in a group with other students/parents; being driven to school (by a parent/guardian, grandparents, friends, etc.); carpooling; riding a bike; utilizing childcare providers.
As mentioned previously, the one mile walk zone is not unique to Deer Park. We are strongly encouraging adults in our community to consider organizing “walking school bus,” options that have seen success around the nation. The “walking school bus” option came about as parents in communities surrounding schools searched for ways to make walking to school safer, more fun, and more convenient. The Safe Routes to School Program has a wealth of information about organizing a walking school bus for children in your neighborhood; more information can be found The Walking School Bus website as well.
Step one is to contact the secretary at the school for which you would like to request transportation – you will need to provide a physical address. The secretary will review whether or not the student meets the eligibility criteria (potentially consulting with the transportation director) and will then inform the parent/guardian whether or not the student is eligible. The secretary will also let you know of nearby bus stops or if a new bus stop will be established. If your child is a special needs student, please contact your child’s case manager to begin the process for getting transportation services to and from school. The case manager will work with the transportation director and with the director of special services to determine transportation needs.
All requests for additions or changes to bus stops must go through the District’s transportation office at 464-5530. Each request is evaluated using a number of factors and variables before the decision is made to add or change a stop. Please be aware that once a stop change is approved, it may take three to five working days to have it implemented because other riders must be notified of the change and, in some cases, a bus or buses may need to be rerouted.
The number of variances in after school stops for children has become an increasingly difficult issue for our bus drivers. Ensuring that children get to the correct stop after school is our utmost priority, but in some cases schedules vary almost daily and it has become particularly hard for drivers to manage daily stop changes for large numbers of children. At this time, we will continue to try to accommodate changes to after school stops, but we are presently considering changes to this policy.
If your child will be going home with a friend or to a location other than home after school, we request that a signed note (signed by a parent/guardian) be sent to the main office of the school your child attends. The school secretary will generate a bus pass for the student to give to the driver. Students that do not present a bus pass to the driver WILL NOT be allowed to use an alternate drop-off location.
The safety of your child is of utmost importance – we expect that our drivers are aware of your student’s normal stop, but beyond that, it is not realistic to believe they can remember every student’s alternate stops. WAC 392-145-015 (7) states: “A school bus driver shall not allow a student to depart the bus other than at his/her boarding or alighting place except as provided in WAC 291-145-070(7).
Safe transportation to and from school is a key factor in cancelations and/or delays. While the Superintendent makes the final call regarding delays or cancelations, transportation is an important consideration. When evaluating the possibility of a delay or closure, the most important consideration is always safety – we want to make certain that our buses, as well as parent and student drivers, can get to schools over roads that are clear enough to allow safe arrival. The obvious problem with that statement is that each person’s concept of what qualifies as “safe travel” in the Inland Empire is generally a bit different. Obviously, county road crews and law enforcement can be helpful with this determination, but there are a number of factors that come into play. The timing of snow arrival, how quickly it falls, the temperature, and the rural nature of our school district sometimes can make it impossible to get all of the roads clear in time for school. That said, the desire to ensure safety is coupled with two key considerations: We want students in school for instruction and there is significant inconvenience that working parents must manage when we impose closures or delays.
On some days, the decision is clear. Deer Park’s Transportation Director (Sonja Rosenthal) typically starts driving rural roads around 3:00am and communicates with the superintendent between 4:30am and 5:30am to discuss road conditions and weather forecasts when necessary. Mrs. Rosenthal is also frequently in contact with county road crews to get an idea of what they’re facing. Additionally, the Spokane County Superintendent’s group also has a process where they inform one another of closures or delays as soon as a district’s decision is made.
Certainly, there are times when the recommendation to delay or cancel will come quickly and easily: particularly treacherous conditions or widespread heavy snow accumulations on roads throughout Spokane and/or Stevens county typically make for brief deliberations. Unfortunately, most of the time, the decision is not so easy and the decision is never made in isolation.
As you’re aware, on rare occasions, we will choose to start school two hours late if we think folks need the opportunity to “dig out” after significant snowfall or if we believe the roads will clear up in time to have school for most of the day. If it doesn’t appear that road conditions will improve in two hours, then the decision would be to close for the day – simply delaying school for two hours without any significant changes in the road conditions just wouldn’t make good sense.
Assuming your student can access an existing in-district bus stop and also assuming that the school bus in your area has capacity to transport additional students, the answer is yes, we will provide transportation for non-resident students attending Deer Park schools. Even though there are a few Deer Park buses that use roads outside of the Deer Park School District’s boundaries (using the shortest route to get from point “A” to point “B”) we do not allow bus stops anywhere outside district boundaries.
The determination to allow a non-resident student to access district transportation is a decision made annually at the beginning of each school year. If you have questions about your student’s eligibility, it is always best to call the Deer Park transportation office at 464-5530.
The National Safety Council states that the bus accident rate is 0.01 per 100 million miles traveled versus 0.04 for trains, 0.06 for commercial aviation and 0.96 for other passenger vehicles. That equates to school buses being about nine times safer than other passenger vehicles. In fact, the school bus is the only mode of transportation which has been reducing accidents, injuries and fatalities while increasing the number of vehicles, miles, and passengers annually.
The American School Bus Council provides some excellent information regarding the safety of school buses nationwide – check it out!
While some school buses are equipped with safety belts, the vast majority of buses provide occupant protection through “compartmentalization.” Compartmentalization is the name for the protective envelope created by strong, closely-spaced seats that have energy-absorbing high seat backs that protect occupants in the event of an accident. School buses also have other features that contribute to the high level of safety they provide each occupant. Features such as emergency exit, roof structure, fuel systems, and body joint strength make the bus stronger, larger, heavier, and safer than most other vehicles on the road today.
The transportation department’s student conduct document states that, “use of cell phones/electronic devices on the bus may be restricted at the driver’s discretion.” So then, what exactly does this mean?
The conduct policy recognizes that many students now carry and use mobile devices on a daily basis – assuming that mobile devices are used quietly with headphones and assuming that devices are not a distraction, drivers generally allow use on the bus. That said, any decision regarding what is distracting or impermissible is always up to the discretion of the driver. Use of cellular devices on a bus – given often loud ringtones and animated conversations – can be a major distraction to a bus driver. Any time an electronic device becomes a distraction to the driver or causes a disturbance on the bus, the driver has complete authority to either have the student put the device away or confiscate the device if necessary.
In the most simple terms, the rule to remember is, “not seen, not heard, not an issue;” when this is not the case, drivers generally ask the student to put the device away. If students do not comply, the student may face discipline and the device may be confiscated. Additionally, parents are reminded that students bring electronic devices on the bus at their own risk and that the district is not responsible for loss, theft, or damage.
The Washington State Patrol prepared a video that will take just a few minutes of time to refresh your knowledge on how to drive safely around school busses as they are picking up and dropping off our children. The law states the $394 fine for failure to stop for a school bus cannot be reduced, suspended, or waived. If you get a ticket for failure to stop for a school bus you will pay the full amount.
Of course it is always important to practice safe driving, but when you see a yellow school bus, it typically means children are present and we ask for you to use extra caution.