Friday, May 15, 2009

Final Coroners Jury Recommendations

Below is the list of 24 recommendations from the Jury at the Coroners Inquest into the death of our sons. (The last three are from the Acting Chief Coroner, Greg Forestell).

Fourteen of the recommendations are based on the list of recommendations that we developed and, in consultation with the other parents, were jointly approved on Wednesday, May 13 at the closing of the Inquest. [Click here to see list of Recommendations that we submitted as a group on Wednesday, May 13]

* There should be external audits to monitor compliance of schools and school districts in their implementation of Department of Education Policies 512 and 513. (The policies detail safety regulations for vehicles used to transport students to activities and the requirements for drivers.);

* Hosting schools should have contingency kits available with basic overnight supplies (air mattresses, bedding) should the weather change and hotels or home billets are not available. Hosting schools should be prepared to house a visiting team in the school if necessary;

* All travelling school teams and activity groups should carry with them written contingency binders that include contact information for hotels in all the communities to which they may be travelling, AMEC weather contact information and a current list of the names of schools' vice-principals and principals, the district's transportation manager, director of education, director of finance and administration and the superintendent;

* There should be a concerted effort by high schools and by the New Brunswick Interscholastic Activities Association to create schedules that minimize winter travel;

* The Department of Education should take full responsibility for the safety of children travelling to off-site extra-curricular events when they are representing their schools;

* Nothing less than a qualified Class 2 yellow school bus driver with endorsements for school buses and air brakes should be used for travel to off-site extra-curricular events. Teachers, coaches and parents, as well as volunteers, should not drive children to off-site events;

* A weather law should be enacted preventing students from being transported to off-site extra-curricular events in bad weather. If there is a storm alert, a game should be cancelled. If the weather changes at destinations, students should stay overnight;

* Fifteen-passenger and seven-passenger vans should be banned for student travel across Canada. Only yellow school buses and multi-function activity vehicles (mini buses) should be used;

* The minimum standard on tire tread depth has to be raised to a minimum of 4/32nds and tread depth should be measured across the full width of the tread. Clients should be advised by written recommendation that their tires are approaching replacement time;

* Drivers should drive no more than 14 hours;

* A process should be put in place so that persons employed by the Department of Education who fail to fulfil their duties as outlined in the guidelines, policies and regulations of the department are reprimanded. The reprimand should be recognized and serve as a reminder to other staff that they must do their job or be confronted with a reprimand or dismissal, if need be;

* The maintenance of highway edge drops should be kept seamless at all times, therefore no edge drop;

* All vehicles transporting students must have winter tires; should not be up to student representative councils to pay for multi-functional activity vehicles or for their maintenance. That should be paid for by the province. Student councils also should not have to pay the drivers of multi-functional vehicles if the recommendation for mandatory bus drivers for these vehicles is passed;

* There should be an activity organizer committee in place that would involve parents in planning travel for school activities;

* Only the principal and vice-principal should decide if travel will take place during inclement weather. Therefore, there should be a provincial training model to help them make informed decisions about travel;

* An itinerary or detailed explanation of trips should be sent to each student's parents;

* Additional snow plows and drivers should be used by the Department of Transportation at the time of bad weather all over the province;

* The Department of Transportation Road Patrol should report road conditions to the road supervisor immediately;

* It should be mandatory for all policies in place to be read and signed by all parties involved for the safety of students;

* As part of the recommendations outlined today, all current policies already in place should remain as such and be strictly adhered to;

* Procedures developed by School District 15 in regards to safeguarding pupil transportation should be disseminated to all school districts and through them to all schools;

* The Department of Transportation should review the condition of road shoulders and make the necessary repairs to the section of Highway 8 from the junction of Route 11 south to the Allardville exit;

* The registrar of the Department of Motor Vehicles should advise all licensees that 15-passenger vans are to be inspected twice a year, regardless of who operates