The “Paul Lee School Bus Safety Law” was approved by bipartisan vote today following a Assembly Education Committee hearing in Sacramento. The bill, which would that would require all school buses in California to be equipped with a child-safety alarm system, will now go to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for consideration.
Along with PSB attorney Rahul Ravipudi, Paul Lee’s mother and father traveled to the state capital in support of SB 1072, a bill authored by Senator Tony Mendoza and named after their son. As they did on June 14, 2016, Senator Tony Mendoza presented the bill and Mrs. Lee testified, emphasizing the incredible loss her family has suffered and the importance of installing the alarm system on school buses for the future safety of all children.
“Many children, especially those in special education, remain vulnerable to this type of life-threatening situation while traveling aboard a school bus,” Mrs. Lee told the committee. “Without adherence and reinforcement of school bus safety policies and procedures, all children are at risk of being left behind and this senseless tragedy will happen again. Our family remains vigilant that Paul’s death will not be in vain or without change…”
Paul Lee, 19, was a non-verbal autistic student who died after being left behind on a school bus in record-breaking heat, with the window up. The bus driver had given the “all-clear” that the bus was empty but Paul’s lifeless body was discovered hours later aboard that same bus parked at the school bus parking lot.
Panish Shea & Boyle LLP and the Yun Law Firm represent the family in a wrongful death lawsuit against Pupil Transportation Cooperative and the Whittier Union High School District. In February 2016, the bus company admitted during discovery that it is vicariously liable for the conduct of its bus driver, Armando Ramirez, and that the driver’s conduct was the cause of Paul’s death.
Two months later, school bus driver Armando Ramirez was arrested and charged with felony dependent adult abuse. The 37-year-old Apple Valley resident entered a plea of not guilty to the charge and is scheduled to appear in court again on July 8.