Menu Content/Inhalt
Obtaining a SPAB Certificate

Obtaining a SPAB Certificate

SPAB / School Pupil Activities Bus Defined

A SPAB, or School Pupil Activity Bus, is a motor vehicle that is NOT a traditional school bus that will be used to transport students to or from a school related activity.

A bus driver is required to have a SPAB certificate in order to transport K – 12 grade students in the State of California for school related activities such as field trips, sporting events and proms.

According to the California Legislation, Vehicle Code 546, a “school pupil activity bus” is any motor vehicle, other than a school bus, operated by a common carrier, or by and under the exclusive jurisdiction of a publicly owned or operated transit system, or by a passenger charter-party carrier, used under a contractual agreement between a school and carrier to transport school pupils at or below the 12th-grade level to or from a public or private school activity, or used to transport pupils to or from residential schools, when the pupils are received and discharged at off-highway locations where a parent or adult designated by the parent is present to accept the pupil or place the pupil on the bus. As used in this section, common carrier, publicly owned or operated transit system, and passenger charter-party carrier refer to carriers in business for the principal purpose of transporting members of the public on a commercial basis. This section shall not apply to a motor vehicle operated by a carrier licensed by the Interstate Commerce Commission that is transporting pupils on a school activity trip entering or returning to the state from another state or country.

The driver of a school pupil activity bus shall be subject to the regulations adopted by the California Highway Patrol governing school bus drivers, except that the regulations shall not require drivers to duplicate training or schooling that they have otherwise received which is equivalent to that required pursuant to the regulations, and the regulations shall not require drivers to take training in First Aid. However, a valid certificate to drive a school pupil activity bus shall not entitle the bearer to drive a school bus.

(Added by Stats. 1981, Ch. 813, Sec. 6.)

Section 12517(b) requires anyone operating a school pupil activities bus (SPAB) to have (1) A valid license for the class of vehicle being driven, (2) A passenger endorsement to that license, and (3) A SPAB certificate. Applicants must also pass a fingerprint/background check (Section 12571.3), a medical examination within the two years prior to applying for the certificate (Section 12571.2(a), and the SPAB examination given by CHP. (Section 12571.4.)

There are many steps required to obtain a SPAB certificate. Start with your local CHP office and ask to speak with the School Bus Officer who will guide you in how to go about applying for a background check, get finger-printed, and the type of medical exam necessary.

Per Education Code section 40083, the SPAB course is to contain a minimum of 35 hours of SPAB training by a state certified instructor. This will include a minimum of 15 classroom hours and 20 Behind-the-Wheel hours. After completing those training hours with a state certified instructor, the student must complete 3-hours of final evaluation their instructor. This is called an “SL-7” and includes both a pre-trip and road test. Students must pass both parts of their “SL-7” before being allowed to take their final road test at CHP.

After completing the classroom portion of your SPAB process, your instructor will sign and give you the State Department of Education Training Certificate called the “T-01.” You will then be allowed to take the CHP’s 40-question written test. After successfully completing the Behind- the-Wheel training and “SL-7” you will be able to take the driving examination with CHP. Upon passing both your written and driving tests, you will be issued a SPAB certificate, which is valid for five years. Education Code 40085 requires annual continuing education of 10-hours of either classroom time or Behind-the-Wheel training. In the fifth year of certificate holding, 10- hours of SPAB renewal training taught by a state certified instructor must be completed and both the CHP written and driver test re-taken.

This continuing education must be properly documented on a TO-2 form. Only a state certified instructor can validate those training hours and transfer to a “T0-1.” A “Year” is defined as the time between a driver’s birthdays.