The Longwood school district is helping launch a statewide public awareness campaign to crack down on motorists who illegally pass school buses that are picking up and dropping off students.

"They are putting our children in danger," district transportation coordinator Gale Winsper said Tuesday.

The district plans to announce Operation Safe Stop Thursday at a 12:45 p.m. news conference at Longwood High School.

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It will be one of many news conferences hosted around the state by the Albany-based New York Association for Pupil Transportation and the New York State Governor's Traffic Safety Committee to draw awareness to the campaign. Under state law, it is illegal to drive around a bus with flashing lights that is dropping off or picking up passengers.

The operation seeks to promote school bus safety through education and assistance from law enforcement agencies, school personnel, bus contractors and traffic safety organizations, district officials said.

School officials say 35 students statewide have been struck by motorists who illegally passed stopped school buses in the past four years.

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Nearly 50,000 motor vehicles illegally pass school buses daily, which poses a threat to the 2.3 million students statewide who ride buses, school officials said. Winsper said the district plans to work with law enforcement to identify problem areas, and officers will follow buses and ticket motorists who pass them.

Several Suffolk County legislators and members of the Brookhaven Town Board are to attend the news conference.