Assemblyman Buchwald, School Students and Parents Celebrate New Law Allowing School Bus Drivers to Administer Life Saving Epinephrine

Children look forward to riding the school bus
September 15, 2017

Assemblyman David Buchwald with Chappaqua students Sara Albert, Luke Leopold, Georgia Rappaport, Jared Saiontz

Chappaqua Central School District fourth grader Jared Saiontz can’t wait to take his first ride on a school bus. Severely allergic to nuts, his mom Stacey Saiontz, like many parents with highly allergic children, has always arranged alternate transportation to school. That’s because school bus drivers working as contractors had no authority in New York State to administer a life-saving dose of epinephrine using the auto injector most of these children keep with them at all times. Food and other allergies such as bee stings and other airborne allergies can produce a serious medical emergency called anaphylaxis, which can lead to the closing off of the airway resulting in respiratory arrest followed by cardiac arrest.

However, a new law (Chapter 200 of the Laws of 2017) sponsored by State Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-Mount Kisco) and Senator Terrence Murphy (R-Yorktown) and signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, clears the way for school bus drivers to be trained and authorized to use EpiPens and other brands of the auto-injectors.

“Without this law, my kindergartner would not be allowed to ride the bus,” says Jackie Leopold of Chappaqua. “Luke has an extremely strong and life-threatening allergy to nuts and we never send him anywhere without an EpiPen and someone to administer it. So with this new law we will let him ride the bus and he’s counting the days until the school district can enact it.”

Horace Greeley High School student Sara Albert says she carries her EpiPen everywhere, but worries when she is on a school field trip and everyone on the bus takes out their snacks. “For a kid with an allergy they have to move away from their friends, and if they don’t leave they could have a reaction. Now the school bus driver will know how to administer an EpiPen.” Albert and other Chappaqua school district students and their parents travelled to Albany earlier this year, to lobby for support for the new law.

New York State Assembly sponsor David Buchwald says, “This legislation delivers vitally important protection to our youngsters who have severe allergies. I am delighted students and parents were able to join us to share their excitement in anticipation of safely riding the bus to school.”

Fourth-grader Jared Saiontz’s mom, Stacey Saiontz, organized parents and children to campaign for the legislation. “Thank you Assemblyman Buchwald and Senator Murphy for not only recognizing the need for this life saving bill, but for your hard work to make it a reality. Recently, a school bus driver in Massachusetts saved a student’s life when emergency personnel could not arrive on the scene in time. I am so pleased that New York school bus drivers will be able to do the same.”

Supporters of the new law gathered with their state lawmakers and Chappaqua School District officials to celebrate its passage. Chappaqua School District Superintendent Christine Ackerman praised the students who travelled to the state capitol to lobby for the bill, saying their efforts cleared the way for children across the state to now ride the bus to school.