The DPS training program covers specific school bus safety education training in accordance with the DPS Program Guide For School Bus Driver Training In Texas, utilizing core materials provided by DPS. ESC-20 provides supporting and relevant material to every class session. The initial program length is twenty hours, and the refresher program is eight hours in length. The fees charged for the program are $100.00 for the 20-hour course and $50.00 for the 8-hour course. Class size is limited to a maximum of 35 participants and registration for the classes are required for attendance. Walk-ins are allowed only when space will permit.The class schedule are listed in the schedule link shown above.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE BUS DRIVER CERTIFICATION PROGRAM IN ESC 20
Statutory reference: Texas Transportation Code, Sec. 521.022 (e), (i) and Texas Administrative Code, Title 37 Part 1, Chapter 14 [14.11(6), 14.31, 14.34, 14.35]. The program is administered by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) through the twenty regional Education Service Centers (ESC).
Bus drivers must hold a valid certification or Enrollment Certificate to drive a bus transporting students. This includes a school bus, a multifunction activity bus, and a school activity bus. Bus driver certificates are valid for three years.
Drivers must carry the certification card with them when driving (plus the drivers license and physical card).
There is no “grace period” after an Enrollment Certificate or certification expires. The driver cannot legally transport students with an expired credential.
The driver must renew the certification prior to expiration to continue to legally drive. If the renewal takes place within 180 days of the expiration date, the driver retains the current expiration date plus three years. If the renewal occurs more than 180 days prior to expiration, the new expiration date will be the course completion date plus three years. (For example: Certification expires 1-1-05. If recertification is done on 8-15-04 [within 180 days], new expiration date is 1-1-08. If recertification is done on 5-5-04 [more than 180 days], new expiration is 5-5-07.)
If the certification has expired, it may be reinstated by completing the 8-hour Recertification Course within one year of expiration. If the certification remains dormant for more than one year, the 20-hour initial Certification Class must be completed to reinstate certification. When reactivating a dormant certification, the new expiration date will be three years from the course completion date.
If a driver must operate a bus with an expired certification, an Enrollment Certificate may be issued. However, the driver must then complete the 20-hour initial course. A driver shall not attend a recertification course on an Enrollment Certificate. If a driver attends a recertification course on an Enrollment Certificate, the re-certification will be voided and the district notified.
All course requirements must be completed within 180 days after starting the course. If the course is not completed within 180 days, the driver must start again. Any contact hours missed must be made up. Course content (including appropriate laboratory activities) will not be waived for individual drivers.
It is the driver’s responsibility to make up incomplete work and/or contact hours. A driver may attend any other appropriate (20-hour or 8-hour) course(s) to make up work assignments and/or hours. However, the make up attendance must match the missing work and/or hours. Therefore the driver must check the training sequence listed below (“Certification Course Information” section) to verify the correct session(s) of attendance needed to make up the required work and/or hours. Upon entering the training room before the beginning of class, a driver must identify himself/herself to the instructor as a driver doing make up work. A registration form must be completed to document the make up work.
Drivers may have to travel out of their district of employment to attend a class. A driver’s refusal to travel to an out-of-district training site is not justification for an expired certification.
Drivers may attend an initial (20 hour) certification class without holding an Enrollment Certificate or the appropriate Texas Commercial Drivers License. Drivers without an appropriate Texas CDL (including those that have LOFS restrictions) will not be allowed to drive the bus during the laboratory activities. (The training record for the driving lab will be marked as “OBSERVED”.) However, a driver must possess some type of Texas drivers license to receive a certification card. DPS will not accept out-of-state drivers license numbers.
ENROLLMENT CERTIFICATE INFORMATION:
A driver not holding certification may be issued an Enrollment Certificate so that the driver may operate a bus prior to attending a certification class. An Enrollment Certificate may be obtained by submitting a completed Application for School Bus Driver Enrollment Certificate form to ESC 20, School Transportation Services. The driver must attend a 20-hour initial class prior to the expiration of the enrollment certificate. A second consecutive enrollment certificate will not be issued. (“Consecutive” means that the driver never achieved certification while holding the last Enrollment Certificate.) Consecutive enrollment certificates may not be issued more frequently than every five years.
The driver must meet the criteria listed on the application. Districts should verify the correctness and legibility of the entries on the form prior to submission of the application (including complete 8-digit TDL number [don’t delete leading zeros] and birth date). Do not forget to “check” the six requirements indicating completion.
By signing the form, the district official is certifying that the driver has met all of the requirements listed. Therefore, technically, the form should not be signed and submitted until the driver has completed all training and is ready to drive solo.
For the form, go to www.txdps.state.tx.us/schoolbus Download the form as a Word document. It may then be completed electronically and printed (helps readability). The form cannot be e-mailed since a signature is required. It must be sent to the Transportation Services Specialist at ESC 20. Faxed forms will be accepted, but the original showing original signatures must follow.
Incomplete Enrollment Certificate Applications will be returned to the district for completion.
Region 20 will issue enrollment certificates to be valid for 180 days. ESC 20 will not extend Enrollment Certificate expirations past 180 days for a driver’s failure to attend a 20-hour class, since DPS Rule 14.35 (b) (2) does not apply due to the number of classes taught by ESC 20.
CERTIFICATION COURSE INFORMATION:
The 20-hour Certification Course uses a textbook containing 14 units. Several of these units also contain laboratory activities. The class is divided into 5 sessions. The sessions last 4 hours each.
The 8-hour Recertification Class is taught in 2 sessions using a textbook with four units. Drivers MUST bring current certification card to class for eligiblity verification. The schedule is as follows:
Session 1: Session 2:
All Locations Units 1, 2 Units 3, 4, Evaluation
When classes are run in an eight-hour day, the sessions are paired so that the 20-hour Class is completed in 2.5 days and the 8-hour class in one day.
New certification cards will be mailed to the employing organization’s Transportation Department after classes are completed and all training documentation is received by ESC 20. It may take up to five business days for cards to be processed after the course training documents are received, so drivers should not wait until the last available class to attend. An extension of an expiration date is not possible.
Drivers that are not currently employed driving a bus may attend either a certification or recertification class if they meet the requirements above. Payment for the class will be due at the last class meeting. These drivers must specify the mailing address for the cards on the registration form.