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Wallingford BOE supports cameras on school buses

WALLINGFORD — The Board of Education on Monday night supported a plan to install cameras on the outside of school buses to catch drivers passing stopped buses.

At an operations committee meeting, members of the Parent Teacher Advisory Council made a presentation on the initiative.

The Board of Education explored the camera idea two years ago, but it never came to fruition because of concerns from Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. and Police Chief Douglas Dortenzio.

Greg Allen, a parent and attorney, led the presentation. The town would sign a contract with a company that would install the cameras. When the stop sign of the bus is out, the camera turns on, Allen said. The camera uses multiple angles to capture the vehicle make, color and license plate. If a driver passes through the stopped bus, the company sends the data to the town’s Police Department, which issues a ticket.

Allen told board members the program is designed to be “self-funding.”

“The municipality collects 80 percent of the fine,” Allen said. “That fine goes to paying the program costs for installing and maintaining the system … It’s a revenue source for the town based on the funds collected.”

Under state law, a violator is fined $450 plus court costs.

Throughout the presentation, Allen and board members shared their own experiences.

“I’ve witnessed our buses getting passed,” Allen said. “Even with the most qualified bus drivers, there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Board of Education Chairwoman Roxane McKay said her husband received a ticket in the mail for driving too fast through a work zone.

“They literally sent us a photo of the car and license plate. It’s kind of hard to dispute it,” McKay said. “It gives you all the evidence — it’s pretty compelling.”

Board member Michael Votto said he believes there needs to be more education about the law.

“I don’t think people really know the law. Is the law that you have to stop when the stop sign is out, or the when the blinking lights are on?” Votto said. “There’s some bus drivers that do a long rolling stop and people wonder if they should break to stop or not.”

Board member Karen Hlavac said some special education students ride in a van without a stop sign. She has witnessed some bus drivers waving motorists on while the stop sign is activated.

School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo said a meeting would be set up with parents, Dortenzio and the town’s Law Department. If the town supports the plan, Allen said a pilot program would be launched.

“It does give our law enforcement an opportunity to have eyes where they can’t possibly follow every car,” Allen said. (203) 317-2235 Twitter: @EricVoRJ

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