HISD to require students to wear seat belts on buses

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Thursday, June 9, 2016
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HISD approved a measure that requires students on buses with 3-point seat belts to wear them.

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- There will be a new rule for students on a Houston Independent School District school bus. School officials voted Thursday to require students on school buses with three-point seat belts to wear them.

According to the old code of conduct, seat belts were optional.

This conversation began nine months ago when two HISD students died on September 15, 2015.

Furr High School freshman Janiecia Chatman was on an HISD school bus when when it hit a guard rail on 610 and came crashing down onto Telephone Road. Janiecia and another student were killed.

"I dropped her off and she was like, 'Mommy, I love you,' and I said, 'I love you, too. I'll talk to you later.' She said OK, and I just sent there and watched her as she was walking into the gate."

That would be the last time Sheanine Chatman would see her daughter alive.

"Just seeing her laying in that hospital bed and her body was cold. That was my baby. She always asked how I was feeling. She wasn't a selfish child," said Chatman.

That's why Chatman was glad to hear about a possible big change at HISD.

"No child should get on a bus to school and never return home," added Chatman.

The district announced a proposed update to its Code of Student Conduct that would require students to wear seat belts on all buses equipped with them.

"I feel like it should be mandatory, just how it is when we get in a vehicle with our children," she explained.

Chatman believes if her daughter would have been wearing a seat belt, she would have had a chance to survive. Now she's calling for the district to do more to train students on seat belt safety when riding the school bus.

"I just want to make sure it doesn't and never happens again to anyone else's children. That's what's important to me," she said.

Janceia would've turned 15 June 1st. Her mom still threw her a big birthday party.

"I promised her that, so I wanted to keep my promise," said Chatman, in tears.

Chatman remembers her baby girl by replaying a cell phone video. Janiecia was never without her phone. Oddly, on that fatal day she left it at home by mistake.

"When I get lonely and I want to hear voice, I just go and play a video. She loved God -- you don't find a lot of at the age of 14," said Chatman.