Frequently Asked Questions

Why can’t the school bus come down my road?
In addition to the student eligibility rules, school buses are only allowed to travel on roadways that assure the safe transport of students. Safety is determined by the ability of the school bus to meet and pass another vehicle of equal size, and the roadway must be well-built enough to avoid damaging the school bus or creating the potential for an accident. In addition, bus stops must have a clear visibility of 600 feet in each direction, or a "School Bus Stop Ahead" sign must be located at a point 600 feet in each direction from a designated stop. Stops and turn-abouts shall not be made on blind curves, steep grades, or near the crests of hills or other unsafe traffic environments. Backing up a school bus is to be avoided. The quality of the roadway during bad weather also must be taken into consideration. The safety of the student passengers must be given top priority. School buses are also restricted from using certain private roads. Private roads are only used with the permission of the owner(s).

What time should children be at the bus stop?
Students should arrive at the school bus stop 10 minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. Buses may arrive within 10 minutes of the scheduled time or 10 minutes after the scheduled arrival time depending on traffic.

Where should children stand at the bus stop?
A school bus stop includes both sides of any two-lane road. Children are not required to cross a multi-lane road to access a school bus stop. Students should generally be standing on the side of the road nearest their home and should not stand next to the roadway. Students should stand away from the road until after the school bus has come to a complete stop, activated the traffic control devices, and the driver has motioned the students to board the bus.
Before crossing the road, students should always watch the school bus driver and wait for the driver to verify that traffic behind and ahead of the bus is stopped. Once the driver has verified that the traffic has stopped and it is safe to cross the road, students will be signaled to cross. Students should check for traffic before crossing the road and watch the school bus driver as they cross in case the traffic environment suddenly changes. Students must never cross behind a school bus. When students cross in front of a bus, they must make sure that the bus driver sees them. The bus driver must acknowledge the student’s crossing. Adults supervising children at school bus stops can set a good example by following the same road crossing rules required of children.

Why can't the bus pick up and drop off my child where I work?
Bus transportation is provided only to residences and designated daycare locations. Bus stops will not be located at places of business.

Why is my child’s bus late?
Most Darlington County School District buses cover multiple routes across grade levels and schools. The Transportation Department and drivers work as hard as possible to have buses arrive and depart on time. With the exception of the first several weeks of school or the weeks immediately following the opening of a new school, buses are usually late for two reasons: mechanical problems or a substitute or late driver.

What is the maximum ride time for my child?
Although it is rare for a route to be longer than 1 hour and 15 minutes, this does sometimes occur. The SCDE monitors ride times and tries to shorten them as much as possible within the limitations of the bus fleet.

Who sets school bus routes and schedules?
The DCSD Transportation Department manages school bus routes, which are then approved by the SCDE to ensure they are in compliance with state law. The SCDE provides assistance to each school district, but the district makes all final determinations

Who is responsible for safety at bus stops?
Parents are responsible for student conduct and safety at bus stops until the bus arrives in the morning and after the bus departs in the afternoon. According to SC Code of Laws: "Section 59-67-415. Parents or guardians are responsible for the safety, conduct, and the timely arrival of their children to, from, and at the designated school bus stop before the arrival of the school bus for pick up and transport to school and the timely departure of the child after the school bus leaves the designated school bus stop after transporting the children from school. For purposes of this section, the phrase 'arrival of the school bus' includes the time that the school bus assigned to the school bus stop activates the required pedestrian safety devices, stops, and loads or unloads students until the school bus deactivates all pedestrian safety devices."

Can my child be required to sit in a designated school bus seat?
Yes, students can be assigned a seat. This is a practice used by many school districts to be able to give accurate student accountability as well as control behavior on the school bus. State law gives school districts this authority.

Why can’t I get on the bus to talk to the bus driver?
Parents desiring to discuss any issue with the bus driver must contact the Transportation Department to arrange a meeting after the bus completes its routes. School buses cannot be delayed during the route for parents to talk to the driver. Boarding a school bus without permission or interfering with the operation of the bus in any way is illegal and could result in prosecution, according to SC Code of Law 59-67-245. This law protects the safety of students and helps assure that routes run on time.

Why can’t my child bring their band instrument onto the bus?
All items allowed on buses must be able to be held in the student’s lap and must not extend beyond the student’s seating space. The child is not allowed to sit on a book bag or similar carry-on item or store items on the floor of the bus. These are safety requirements. Therefore, students are not allowed to carry large music instruments, science projects, or other items that may protrude into the seating space of another student. These items must also not be allowed to block access to exits. These requirements are necessary so that in the event of a traffic accident, items are secured and do not become projectiles inside the bus.

Do I have to meet my children at the bus stop?
Darlington County School District gives parents/guardians of elementary school students (Grades K-5) an option regarding this particular topic. A parent can choose when registering their child a "Do Not Drop" option. This means that if the appropriate parent/guardian is not at the bus stop when the bus arrives at the end of the school day, the student will not be left at the bus stop and instead will be returned to the school. The Transportation Department and/or School Administration will then work to contact the parent guardian.  

What can I do to make my child’s trip to school safe?
Accompany or arrange for an adult to accompany your child to the school bus stop and wait for the school bus to arrive. In the afternoon, a parent/guardian should be at the school bus stop when the bus arrives and accompany your child home. Parents should model safe practices at the bus stop including standing away from the road until after the school bus has come to a complete stop, activated the traffic control devices, and the driver has motioned the students to board or exit the bus. Adults should make sure children check for traffic before crossing the road and watch the school bus driver as they cross in case the traffic environment suddenly changes. Students must never cross behind a school bus. State law places the responsibility for a child’s safety on the parent until the school bus arrives at the bus stop in the morning and after the bus leaves the site in the afternoon.

Why are there no seat belts on school buses?
School buses are designed with a passenger safety system that includes seats that are strong, flexible, padded and spaced precise distances apart to protect student riders. In addition, the exterior construction is designed to prevent the penetration of objects into the passenger area or the collapse of the roof. Research shows that school buses are the safest passenger transportation vehicles – 70 times safer than the family car and four times safer than train travel. A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concluded that lap belts in school buses create an unsafe situation. The same NHTSA study found very minimal safety benefit to lap/shoulder belt systems on school buses.

How many students are on a school bus?
Bus manufacturers determine the seating capacity of each bus, and this rating is usually shown on the manufacturer's vehicle identification plate. Most South Carolina school buses have a rated seating capacity of 60 to 78 students. Buses that are designed to transport students with disabilities transport fewer students because these buses must make room for wheelchair lift systems and at least two wheelchair securement systems on each bus. Bus manufacturers calculate seating capacity by assigning 13 inches of seat width per student. Thirteen inches is the typical space needed for kindergarten through third-grade students; obviously, older students take up more room.
The SCDE provides a guide to school districts that recommends the rated seating capacity be reduced by 20 percent for middle school students and 33 percent for high school students. For example, a school bus rated to transport 78 first-graders would be able to transport 51 high school students. But the true test of a school bus’s capacity is whether a bus can safely transport the students assigned to ride. Safety is measured by the fact that every student must be fully seated on the seat cushion, not protruding into the aisle. There are exceptions to this, however. State law permits school districts to transport students in standing rooms during the first 20 days of a school bus route. These 20 days usually occur at the beginning of the school year or immediately after the opening of a new school.

Are there cameras on the buses?
Darlington County School District buses are equipped with video cameras.