Hamilton County School Board Chairman Dr. Steve Highlander (front) joined Interim Superintendent Dr. Kirk Kelly (back left) and members of area law enforcement agencies Monday for the announcement. (Photo: Staff)

State and local law enforcement joined Hamilton County school officials to announce an intensified effort to ensure the safety of school bus passengers. 

The Tennessee Highway Patrol, Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and Chattanooga Police Department are coordinating efforts to ride and follow Woodmore Elementary School buses, as well as randomly chosen routes of other drivers. 

“The safety and well-being of our students is always our No. 1 priority,” Hamilton County Department of Education Interim Superintendent Dr. Kirk Kelly said. “We are so appreciative our partners in law enforcement are just as committed to the safety of our students.” 

THP troopers will initially concentrate on the Woodmore route. CPD officers and HCSO deputies will ride or follow other buses as schedules and personnel allow. 

This plan will continue through the end of the school year, and officials will evaluate it on a weekly basis. 

In addition to monitoring bus drivers to make sure they are not using cellphones and are following all rules, authorities will also be looking for citizen driver violations. 

Kelly said that about 200 people a day violate laws by ignoring school bus signs, so law enforcement will also be looking for those sorts of issues. 

This announcement comes a few months after a Nov. 21 Woodmore bus crash that killed six children, injured 19 others, and prompted lawsuits and multiple vehicular homicide charges for the driver. 

Watch the entire news conference below. 

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