STOW — Drivers who ignore the flashing stop sign on the side of school buses could be facing higher fines and jail time for putting students at risk.

Council members on Feb. 13 were scheduled to discuss amending an ordinance "Stopping for School Bus; Discharging Children" during the Roads & Safety Committee meeting.

Mario Fiocca, Ward 4 Stow City Councilman, is sponsoring legislation that would subject violators to a $1,000 fine and/or 30 days in jail. The current law only allows a fine up to $500.

At a previous meeting, Police Chief Jeff Film said four out of 35 complaints went to court because the school bus driver must obtain an accurate license plate, fill out a form for a citation, and identify the driver.

Rob Gress, director of operations for the Stow-Munroe Falls City School District, said Stow has been fortunate that no students have been hit by a car, but vehicles passing a school bus illegally is a "real issue."

"We forward violations on to the police if we have a license plate number," Gress said. "This year we’ve forwarded at least 20 violations and there are many more incidents where we couldn’t get a license plate number."

In Ohio, when drivers are on a road with fewer than four lanes, all traffic approaching a stopped school bus from either direction must stop at least 10 feet from the front or rear of the bus and remain stopped until the bus begins to move or the bus driver signals motorists to proceed.

The buses have cameras but they are focused on the inside of the bus, Gress said. They do not have cameras on the external stop signs, though other school districts do use them.

Editor’s note: See www.mytownneo.com for more on this story.

Gannett reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434 or lfreeman@recordpub.com