400+ Sarasota, Polk school buses impacted by nationwide recall

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FILE – In this Jan. 7, 2015 file photo, public school buses are parked in Springfield, Ill. Once upon a time, finding out how your child was doing in school could require weeks of patience. You waited for the parent-teacher conference, for a return phone call from school if you were concerned and, eventually, for […]

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Sarasota County school buses are the latest to be impacted by a nationwide recall of school buses after the federal government said students may not be properly protected while in their seats during a crash.

8 On Your Side reached out to local school boards to find out if your children are at risk after learning that the parent company of Thomas Built Buses was informed by Canadian transportation officials that some seats in its buses failed knee foam impact tests.

As of Tuesday afternoon, four local school boards confirmed that they had buses affected by the recall.

Polk County School Board spokesman Jason Geary confirmed the county had nearly 280 buses that would need repairs as part of the recall.

“Polk County Public Schools has 278 buses that will undergo repairs as part of a voluntary nationwide recall,” Geary said.

“The buses still meet state inspection standards, and they are safe to operate,” added Associate Superintendent of Support Services Rob Davis. “All of our 639 buses in the fleet are equipped with lap belts. There have been no reported incidents or injuries related to this voluntary recall.”

Sarasota had approximately 200 buses impacted, according to school board spokeswoman Kelsey Whealy.

“The overall impact to our fleet is minor – our outstanding vehicle maintenance team is addressing these instances as they arise,” Whealy said. “The recall is not a service item that requires a bus to be taken out of service, so this will not impact our responsiveness to the transportation needs of our school communities.”

A Pasco County School Board spokeswoman said the county has 58 of the 50,000 Saf-T-Liner C2 buses that have been recalled. 

The Hillsborough County School Board responded saying they too have some of the buses impacted by the recall. Hillsborough officials were unsure how many of their buses were listed in the recall.

“It’s not a safety issue for us, because we use lap belts as well,” said Hillsborough County School Board spokeswoman Tanya Arja. “What I understand, some buses at districts don’t have safety belts and only use the compartmentalized safety feature. The issue would be over time, as they age. Thomas Built will come out and make the repairs.”

The counties that responded saying their fleet was not impacted were:

  • Highlands
  • Hernando
  • Pinellas
  • Citrus

Hardee and Manatee counties are still checking the status of their school buses.

Stay with 8 On Your Side as we learn more bout this developing story.


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