Do you know your child’s bus driver, and just how well? Many parents take for granted that the bus driver pulling up to the curb every day does not have a criminal record. But, as schools have implemented background check policies for not only teachers but volunteers and visiting parents over the past few years, why should the bus driver be excluded? After all, such an individual is directly behind the wheel of a vehicle holding 20 or more children.
Such an issue surfaced in Osage, Ia., recently. Parent Kim Koenigs was researching bus safety issues for Kadyn’s Law, a recently-passed measure emphasizing greater penalties for motorist that violate school bus arm laws, and found that Iowa bus companies do not require background checks in the hiring process.
Since Koenigs proposed this measure, local education officials authorized thorough background checks for all district bus drivers.
As you know, not all background checks are the same. Will drivers for Osage schools simply be put through a state records criminal background check or more rigorous measures? These background checks, apparently, will examine dependent child abuse, child abuse, and sex abuse registries and review Iowa Courts Online for driving violations and criminal history. To decrease the possibility of incidents like those at Miramonte Elementary in California, the district plans to screen drivers every five years and will pay for all investigations.
As incidents like the series at Miramonte show, even the most tenured and apparently trustworthy teachers aren’t all they appear to be. Just as the teacher instructing a class of 30 students should honest about his or her background, from education credentials to an absence of criminal convictions, bus drivers coming in contact with students should have to pass a similar set of standards.
- Letter: Safety on school buses needs to be a paramount concern (tcpalm.com)
- Bus Driver, Teen Honored For Stopping Hit-And-Run Driver (dreamindemon.com)
- Bus Driver Accused of Sexual Misconduct (myfoxphoenix.com)