115C-242. Use and operation of school buses.

Public school buses may be used for the following purposes only, and it shall be the duty of the superintendent of the school of each local school administrative unit to supervise the use of all school buses operated by such local school administrative unit so as to assure and require compliance with this section:

(1) A school bus may be used for the transportation of pupils enrolled in and employees in the operation of the school to which such bus is assigned by the superintendent of the local school administrative unit. Except as otherwise herein provided, such transportation shall be limited to transportation to and from such school for the regularly organized school day, and from and to the points designated by the principal of the school to which such bus is assigned, for the receiving and discharging of passengers. No pupil or employee shall be so transported upon any bus other than the bus to which such pupil or employee has been assigned pursuant to the provisions of this Article: Provided, that children enrolled in a Headstart program or any NC Pre-K program may be transported on public school buses, and any additional costs associated with such contractual arrangements shall be incurred by the benefitting Head Start or NC Pre-K program: Provided further, that children with disabilities may be transported to and from the nearest appropriate private school having a special education program approved by the State Board of Education if the children to be transported are or have been placed in that program by a local school administrative unit as a result of the State or the unit's duty to provide such children with a free appropriate public education.

(2) In the case of illness or injury requiring immediate medical attention of any pupil or employee while such pupil or employee is present at the school in which such pupil is enrolled or such employee is employed, the principal of such school may, in his discretion, permit such pupil or employee to be transported by a school bus to a doctor or hospital for medical treatment, and may, in his discretion, permit such other person as he may select to accompany such pupil.

(3) The board of education of any local school administrative unit may operate the school buses of such unit one day prior to the opening of the regular school term for the transportation of pupils and employees to and from the school to which such pupils are assigned or in which they are enrolled and such employees are employed, for the purposes of the registration of students, the organization of classes, the distribution of textbooks, and such other purposes as will, in the opinion of the superintendent of the schools of such unit, promote the efficient organization and operation of such public schools.

(4) A local board of education which elects to operate a school bus transportation system, shall not be required to provide transportation for any school employee, nor shall such board be required to provide transportation for any pupil living within one and one half miles of the school in which such pupil is enrolled.

(5) Local boards of education, under rules adopted by the State Board of Education, may permit the use and operation of school buses for the transportation of pupils and instructional personnel as the board deems necessary to serve the instructional programs of the schools. Included in the use permitted by this section is the transportation of children with disabilities, and children enrolled in programs that require transportation from the school grounds during the school day, such as special vocational or occupational programs. On any such trip, a city or county-owned school bus shall not be taken out of the State.

If State funds are inadequate to pay for the transportation approved by the local board of education, local funds may be used for these purposes. Local boards of education shall determine that funds are available to such boards for the transportation of children to and from the school to which they are assigned for the entire school year before authorizing the use and operation of school buses for other services deemed necessary to serve the instructional program of the schools.

Children with disabilities may be transported to and from the nearest appropriate private school having a special education program approved by the State Board of Education if the children to be transported have been placed in that program by a local school administrative unit as a result of the State or the unit's duty to provide those children with a free appropriate public education.

(6) School buses owned by a local board of education may be used for emergency management purposes in any state of disaster or local state of emergency declared under Chapter 166A of the General Statutes. Under rules and regulations adopted by a local board of education, its school buses may be used with its permission for the purpose of testing emergency management plans; however, neither the State Board of Education nor the local board of education shall be liable for the operating cost, any compensation claims or any tort claims resulting from the test.

(7) Uses authorized by G.S. 115C-243. (1955, c. 1372, art. 21, s. 4; 1957, c. 1103; 1969, c. 47; 1973, c. 869; 1977, c. 830, ss. 2, 3; 1977, 2nd Sess., c. 1280, s. 2; 1979, c. 885; 1981, c. 423, s. 1; 1983, c. 630, s. 7; c. 768, s. 8; 1987, c. 827, s. 49; 2006-66, s. 7.18(i); 2006-69, s. 3(g); 2016-30, s. 1.)