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"Purple equal parents" Program: PEP

What is the “Purple Equals Parent” program?

The “Purple Equals Parent” program is a quick, safe and effective means for all stakeholders in the student transportation process to help protect our most vulnerable young student-passengers:  Kindergarten, Grade 1 students.

The program is easy to start up and maintain. It is unobtrusive and allows front line staff, bus drivers, to easily identify students requiring adult supervision at their bus stop with just a quick glance at a “purple tag” attached to a school bag or backpack. The purple tag below is simple, user-friendly and generic, and can easily be understood by all involved.



The purple tag (also known as “purple band” elsewhere) has been successfully implemented in many school districts in Ontario. As far as we know, Lester B. Pearson School Board is the first school board in Quebec to introduce a similar program.

Simply put, the program is a purple luggage-type tag placed at the bottom of the left shoulder strap of an identified student’s school bag. This tag, in conjunction with an awareness program for school staff, parents, and bus drivers, will help minimize the risk of dropping off these students at their bus stops without a parent or their designate present.

1.0 The Program

1.1 The Goals

The main goals are to:

  Ensure that drivers identify each and every tagged student who must be met at the stop;
  Communicate the procedures to follow if an adult is not at the designated stop.

1.2 The Tool

The purple tag is a quick visual tool that tells bus drivers that the student with a tagged backpack needs their special attention as well as adult supervision at the drop-off point.

1.3 The Process

There are two steps to implement the “Purple Equals Parent” program:
1. Tagging all students who ride the bus and require supervision at the bus stop.
2. Informing school bus drivers, parents, and school personnel about the program.

1.4 The Stakeholders

School Bus Driver

The school bus driver has the most active role in this program, and will be briefed (and later reminded) on the importance of:

  Remembering the meaning of “Purple Equals Parent”; if in doubt, ask your dispatcher!
  Identifying tagged children by their school bag’s purple tag as they board the bus;
  Keeping the tagged students at the front of the bus, ahead of older students;
  Learning to recognize each tagged student’s parent who meets them at the stop;
  Keeping the tagged students on the bus if there is no one at the stop to meet the child;
  Contacting dispatch for instructions while reassuring the young child;
  Handing the child over to a school or daycare staff in a timely manner.

Personnel at the Bus Company – Dispatchers and Managers

Staff at the bus company must work together with the bus drivers, schools, Transportation Services and parents to ensure that these vulnerable students get home safely.

These responsibilities include:

  Guiding  the driver when the child is not met and remains on-board;
  Advising the school board and/or school that a child was not met;
  Advising the school board when and where the child was eventually dropped;
  Tracking/documenting incidents of tagged children when they are not met, to share with schools,
Transportation Services and parents;
  Training new and replacement drivers in all aspects regarding this program.

School Board Transportation Services

Transportation Services plays a coordination role, bringing all the pieces together to form a coherent, consistent system.

Responsibilities include:
  Ensuring schools have up-to-date busing information on students and bus routes;
  Sending out purple tags and documentation, along with bus passes, to parents of new Kindergarten students in late August of each year;
  Managing the program and ensuring that schools have an adequate supply of purple tags at all times;
  Offering support to both carriers and schools in resolving recurrent issues of children not being met.

The Schools

The school personnel will be key in ensuring that all those who should be tagged are. They will inspect school bags of students in the PEP program with lists provided for each classroom by Transportation Services each August.

School responsibilities include:
  Verifying that all those identified are properly tagged before boarding buses;
  Obtaining and maintaining emergency contact information from the child’s family/guardian;
  Tagging new students throughout the school year;
  Replacing purple tags, as necessary, in a timely manner (maintaining a stock of tags):
  Ensuring a staff member remains at the school to receive any student whose parent or designate is not at the bus stop;
  Removing tags from Grade 2 students.
  Enter the name(s) into GPI of the parent(s) or designate(s) who will meet the child at the stop.

Parents/Legal Guardians

Parents/legal guardians play a critical role in this program.

Their duties include:

 Ensuring the purple tag is in place on their child’s backpack, obtaining new ones from the school if necessary;
 Ensuring the school has correct and up-to-date information concerning
  o home phone numbers
o work and/or cell phone numbers
o emergency phone numbers
o caregiver information – name, address and phone number;
  Ensuring that they or a designate are at the school bus stop on time to receive the student;
  Contacting the school prior to the students boarding buses if they are unable to provide supervision at the stop.


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