Air conditioning not required on Florida public school buses

8 On Your Side

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Pasco County mom wants to know why her 5-year-old daughter’s school bus has no air conditioning in the sweltering heat. The Florida Department of Education says A/C is not required. As 8 On Your Side Investigates discovered, most Tampa Bay area school districts have it anyway. However, there are two exceptions and one really stands out.

Alexis Hughes called 8 On Your Side Investigates after her 5-year-old daughter dozed off on a school bus and woke up at the bus garage. 8 On Your Side looked into it and now, so is the district. They’re investigating the bus driver.

But Hughes noticed something else too. Her daughter’s bus had no air conditioning.

“She could have had a heat stroke,” said Hughes.

According to the DOE, there’s no requirement for public school buses to have A/C. Most do anyway. That includes Citrus, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties.

There are two exceptions: Highlands and Pasco counties.

Highlands County doesn’t have air in five of their regular route buses, according to a spokesman.

The situation is less clear in Pasco County. According to a spokeswoman, not all of Pasco County school buses have A/C and there is no policy related to A/C on school buses.

For more than a week, 8 On Your Side tried to get an exact number.

We called, emailed and even stopped by the superintendent’s office. We were told he wasn’t available.

Next, we tried reaching out to lawmakers.

“I don’t know the extent of the complaints,” said Senator Tom Lee.

Lee’s district includes parts of Pasco County. Senator Lee said the local school boards ordinarily make spending decisions about their districts.

“I suppose it becomes just a cost-benefit analysis that the local district has to do as to whether or not the juice is worth the squeeze,” he said.

On Tuesday, a Pasco County School Spokeswoman finally responded to 8 On Your Side.

According to the spokeswoman, Pasco schools do not have an existing record that’s responsive to the request for the number of buses without air conditioning.

8 On Your Side Investigates will continue to work on determining the number of school buses in Pasco County without A/C.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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