I read an article today discussing Montana bus drivers with criminal histories. Apparently an audit was done and it revealed that not all of the school bus drivers in this Montana school district have “good moral character.” Their audit showed they had over 60 bus drivers with some kind of criminal history, 8 with felony arrests, and 1 with a warrant out for his arrest. Based on the article background checks were done when these drivers were hired but there were no ongoing checks done on a regular basis.
Last year, the state of Iowa signed a law that mandates all school bus drivers be checked in the sex offender registry, central registry for child abuse, the central registry for dependent adult abuse, and Iowa Courts Online. Then they need to be re-checked every 5 years. That’s a step in the right direction, but what about checking other states? If the person lived in another state for a period of time, are they checking those states to ensure the person is suitable to drive a school bus? What if they have a drug charge? That would only show up if a search of federal records were to be done.
Checking state and federal records should be a standard requirement. A motor vehicle record check should also be conducted. All of these checks should be done at at the time of hire, but also continue after the person is hired to ensure nothing has come up while the person is employed. The ongoing checks will help to ensure the right people are transporting our children. Jacksonville, FL has experienced this first hand. A driver for Birnie Bus Service is still driving for them even though she has over a dozen traffic violations. If this driver was checked on an ongoing basis, the company would have been aware of the violations and taken action. Instead, it was reported by a television news station.
The attention the media is bringing to background checks and people that take care of our children has been eye opening. Of all the places of employment, I would think background screening would be a top priority for any school system, or any business that has a great deal of interaction with children. The best option for schools (or bus driving companies, daycares, etc.) is to outsource their background checks to third party vendor. Why? Using a third party vendor for the background checks can provide legal protection, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
3rd Degree Screening is a full-service background screening firm that will provide companies a comprehensive search on all their employees, contractors, and volunteers. With over 18 years experience in the industry, we know how to be hands-on and eyes-on in all of our searches so we protect the company, their employees, and the people they serve. Not sure if the company you are using is doing a thorough check? 3rd Degree Screening can review your current screening process and offer recommendations.