After-school programs often rely on buses to transport students. Sometimes the buses (or vans or whatever they use) are operated by the private-sector business who is running the after-school activity program. Other times, the school district provides the buses. Either way, providing transportation for children so they can participate in worthwhile after-school activities is super helpful to families who are already stressed trying to balance work-family responsibilities.

But several states are bringing up a much-debated question about school bus driver qualifications – What kind of criminal background is acceptable for a school bus driver?

Is Government Intervention Needed?

The majority of school districts across the country contract bus services to outside companies. There doesn’t appear to be a hard and fast rule – or law, for that matter – that determines who is responsible for conducting a background check on drivers or even what type of check is thorough enough.

At least one bill up for consideration in the U.S. Congress is attempting to tackle this tough subject. The Safety for Our Schoolchildren Act would require states and local educational agencies to obtain an FBI background check on people prior to offering them employment as school employees. This bill also prohibits states or educational agencies from hiring school employees if they have been convicted of a crime of violence or other felony or school bus drivers if they have been convicted of, or pled guilty to, drunk driving or a serious moving violation.

Although a good idea in principle, there are two glaring problems with this bill. One, it has only a 1% chance of being enacted. Two, it’s been proven over and over again that FBI fingerprint checks are not sufficient. Read this post to find out why:

CRA Background Check or FBI Fingerprint? What You REALLY Need to Know

Can States Handle the Problem?

The Kansas Board of Education, for example, is taking up the issue. Teachers must undergo fingerprinting and background checks but other outsourced staffers like aides and bus drivers are not legally required to undergo a background check.

The current provision – not law – for school bus drivers states that they must be felony-free for at least a decade. Board members are examining whether that should be expanded to any felony, ever.

This comes about seven months after a Topeka school bus driver wanted for child pornography charges in Texas was arrested. The man did undergo an employee screening process that included a drug and alcohol test, verification of a clean driving record, medical exam, and a background check. The check, however, did not turn up the suspect’s active arrest warrant.

What Does ‘Thorough’ Really Mean?

Studies show that 30-40% of all job applicants put false information on their resumes or applications, and “exaggerate” their qualifications during interviews.

When we, at Protect Youth Sports, talk about thorough background checks, this is what we mean:

  • We reach beyond state lines to examine a multi-state and multi-level investigation.
  • We verify, verify, verify! Everything from addresses to aliases, we check and double-check.
  • We perform actual reference checks.
  • We have boots-on-the-ground researchers who personally go to courthouses and other sites to see results in hand.

Want to learn more about the comprehensive background check program that Protect Youth Sports operates? Click here. You’ll find an in-depth explanation of the services we provide AND clear instructions on how to access, gather, verify and re-verify the information.

What other concerns do you have about operating a successful after-school program? We’d love to hear from you and dig into some research to get you answers. Tweet us here.

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