Starting in September 2019, Niagara Student Transportation Services (NSTS) will have school bus routes equipped with video cameras for the District School Board of Niagara and the Niagara Catholic District School Board. There will be interior-facing and exterior-facing video cameras. The cameras provide an additional tool to enhance student safety and security, which under the Education Act is the responsibility of school boards, and by extension bus companies contracted to transport students of the school boards.
To start the school year, Niagara school bus operators will have 10 school buses equipped with cameras, increasing to 100 school buses by December 2019. Personal information recorded by these cameras is collected under the authority of the Education Act and in accordance with the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Many school buses have one adult on board, the bus driver, whose primary responsibility is to focus on driving students to and from school safely. Both interior-facing and exterior-facing cameras provide another set of eyes to enhance on the bus and bus stop safety.
Interior-facing cameras are on when the ignition of the bus is on and are designed to support investigating concerns and incidents on a school bus. The NSTS Executive Director and school Principal, and their designates, are permitted to view interior-facing camera footage and audio for the purposes of investigating a specific concern related to student safety and security and/or student discipline.
Parents, students and school staff will be notified that their bus is equipped with a camera by the (C) following the route number. There will also be a sign on the outside of the bus in the second/third window behind the door and a sign inside the bus at the front. Bus drivers are not authorized to turn off the cameras, and as such, parents, guardians, students and schools may travel on a school bus equipped with cameras in the event a spare bus is deployed to cover a route and for field trips.
Exterior-facing cameras are on when the bus driver turns on the red overhead flashing lights and stop arm to perform a bus stop. The NSTS Executive Director, and designate, are permitted to view exterior-facing camera footage for the purpose of supporting the bus driver report, and to provide evidence, to the Niagara Regional Police of a vehicle stop-arm violation.
The motoring public adhering to the law is critical for the safety and security of students while boarding and unboarding a school bus. A stop arm violation, or failure to stop for a school bus when the red overhead lights are on and the stop arm is deployed, will be reported to the Niagara Regional Police with the video evidence.
Please visit the NSTS website, www.nsts.ca, to view the related procedure. For more information on video surveillance on school buses, please contact Lori Ziraldo, Executive Director, via email firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone 905-374-0297.