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      RS 17:493     

  

§493. Removal of bus operators; procedures; right to appeal

            A.(1) A permanent school bus operator shall not be removed from his position except upon written and signed charges of willful neglect of duty, or incompetence, or immorality, or drunkenness while on duty, or failure to comply with the reporting requirements of R.S. 17:491.3 relative to being arrested for one or more of the specified offenses, or physical disability to perform his duties, or failure to keep his transfer equipment in a safe, comfortable, and practical operating condition, or of being a member of or contributing to any group, organization, movement, or corporation that is prohibited by law or injunction from operating in the state, and then only if furnished with a copy of such written charges and given the opportunity to respond as provided in this Section.

            (2) Additional grounds for the removal of any permanent school bus operator shall be:

            (a) The abolition, discontinuance, or consolidation of routes based upon a determination by the superintendent that it is in the best interests of the school system to abolish, discontinue, or consolidate said route or routes.

            (b) A conviction of or plea of nolo contendere to a violation of a parish or municipal ordinance that prohibits operating a vehicle while intoxicated or any of the following offenses relative to operating a vehicle while intoxicated regardless of whether the violation occurred while the bus operator was performing an official duty or responsibility as a school bus operator at the time of the offense:

            (i) R.S. 14:98, operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

            (ii) R.S. 14:32.1, vehicular homicide.

            (iii) R.S. 14:32.8(A)(2), third degree feticide.

            (iv) R.S. 14:39.1, vehicular negligent injuring.

            (v) R.S. 14:39.2, first degree vehicular negligent injuring.

            B. A permanent school bus operator shall have ten calendar days from written notice of the charges provided in Paragraph (A)(1) of this Section to respond, in person or in writing.

            C.(1) The superintendent shall have ten calendar days to review the school bus operator's response and to provide written notice to the bus operator of the interim disciplinary action, if any. A superintendent may take interim disciplinary action, which may include placing the bus operator on administrative leave. A permanent bus operator shall not be placed on administrative leave without pay unless the bus operator has been arrested for a violation of the following: R.S. 14:42 through 43.5, 80 through 81.5, any other sexual offense affecting minors, any of the crimes provided in R.S. 15:587.1, or any justified complaint of child abuse or neglect on file in the central registry pursuant to Children's Code Article 615.

            (2) Upon notification that a bus operator has a conviction or plea of nolo contendere to any violation as specified in Paragraph (1) of this Subsection, the superintendent shall immediately remove the bus operator from his position and notify the bus operator of such and that the termination is not subject to review.

            D. Within twenty calendar days after written notice of the charges, the bus operator may request a hearing before a disciplinary hearing officer. If the bus operator fails to timely request a hearing, the disciplinary action becomes final.

            E. Upon request for a review hearing, the superintendent shall randomly appoint a hearing officer from a list of persons previously approved by the school board to serve as "disciplinary hearing officers" for the school board. The school board shall maintain a list of at least five hearing officers for districts of fewer than twenty thousand students and a list of at least ten hearing officers for districts with more than twenty thousand students according to the February first student membership count. If a school board fails to maintain such a list, a superintendent may randomly appoint a hearing officer from a list of persons previously approved by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Only the following persons may serve as a disciplinary hearing officer: a mediator qualified under R.S. 9:4106, an arbitrator approved by the American Arbitration Association or the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, an attorney, or a retired member of the judiciary.

            F. Such hearing may be private or public, at the option of the bus operator, and shall commence no sooner than ten calendar days nor later than thirty calendar days after receipt of the bus operator's request for such hearing. For purposes of this Section, the disciplinary hearing officer shall have the power to issue subpoenas. The school board shall adopt and maintain procedures to govern the conduct of the hearing, which shall include, at a minimum, a method for the examination of witnesses and the introduction of evidence and for the presence of a court reporter and maintenance of the court reporter's record. The bus operator shall have the right to appear before the disciplinary hearing officer with witnesses on his behalf and with counsel of his selection.

            G. The disciplinary hearing officer shall hold a hearing and review whether the interim decision of the superintendent was arbitrary or capricious and shall either affirm or reverse the action of the superintendent. The disciplinary hearing officer shall notify the superintendent and the bus operator of his final determination, with written reasons, within ten days from the date of the hearing. If the superintendent's disciplinary action is affirmed, it shall become effective upon the bus operator's receipt of the decision of the disciplinary hearing officer. If the superintendent's disciplinary action is reversed, the bus operator shall be restored to duty.

            H. Within sixty days from the postmarked date of written notification of the decision of the disciplinary hearing officer, the school board or the bus operator may petition a court of competent jurisdiction to review the matter as a summary proceeding pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure Article 2592. The court shall determine, based on the record of the disciplinary review hearing, whether the disciplinary hearing officer abused his discretion in deciding whether the action of the superintendent was arbitrary or capricious. If the action of the superintendent is reversed by the court and the bus operator is ordered reinstated and restored to duty, the bus operator shall be entitled to full pay for any loss of time or salary he may have sustained by reason of the action of the superintendent.

            I. The time periods contained in this Section may be extended by mutual agreement of the parties. However, paid administrative leave as provided in Paragraph (C)(1) of this Section shall not exceed fifty days from notice of the superintendent's interim decision.

            J. In the event that one or more school bus operators must be removed due to the abolition, discontinuance, or consolidation of routes, the principle of seniority shall apply, so that the last school bus operator hired to serve within the school system to be affected shall be the first to be removed.

            K. For the purposes of this Section, immorality shall mean any conviction of a felony offense affecting the public morals enumerated in Part V of Chapter 1 of Title 14 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950.

            Amended by Acts 1956, No. 248, §1; Acts 1970, No. 494, §1; Acts 1975, No. 418, §1; Acts 1983, No. 581, §1; Acts 2003, No. 273, §1; Acts 2010, No. 533, §1, eff. June 24, 2010; Acts 2013, No. 137, §1, eff. July 1, 2013; Acts 2018, No. 238, §1, eff. May 15, 2018.

NOTE: See Acts 2013, No. 137, §2, relative to the applicability of Act for certain convictions and pleas occurring prior to July 1, 2013.



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