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Audit shows need for better screening of school bus drivers



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A newly released state audit reveals school bus drivers with violent crime convictions and unsafe driving records are employed in Utah's school districts.

Of the 2,700 bus drivers looked at as part of this report, the majority are great employees and assets to their school districts. But a handful have serious problems, criminal records which include assault, child abuse and negligent manslaughter convictions.

Audit shows need for better screening of school bus drivers

The audit states at least 10 bus drivers in Utah have questionable driving records, and 13 bus drivers simply shouldn't be employed. Those 13 have been convicted of crimes including negligent manslaughter, assault, battery, domestic violence and child abuse and neglect.

In one case, a driver had an aggravated assault conviction before being hired then was found guilty of domestic violence in the presence of a child afterward.

Driving record problems include DUI convictions, driving on revoked or denied licenses and driving without a school bus endorsement.

Larry Newton, school finance director for the Utah State Office of Education
Larry Newton, school finance director for the Utah State Office of Education

"I think some districts became a little complacent in looking at driver records," said Larry Newton, school finance director for the Utah State Office of Education.

The education office is already taking steps to follow audit recommendations. It has hired a transportation instruction and certification specialist whose job it is to ensure records are checked and tracked.

The office is also updating standards and policies and installing GPS units on a number of buses that will track not only location, but also speed.

"We've got to be sure our children are safe. We've got to be safe," Newton said.

Confidentiality laws prohibit auditors from revealing the names of the drivers in question. They have, however, notified the individual school districts that will deal with them.

E-mail: sdallof@ksl.com

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Sarah Dallof

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