State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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Audit: many PA bus drivers don't meet basic qualifications

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jan 31, 2018 4:17 AM
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A number of Pennsylvania school districts have been employing bus drivers who aren't properly qualified for their jobs. (Photo by AP)

 

(Harrisburg) -- A statewide audit has found a number of school districts across Pennsylvania have employed bus drivers that should be banned from the job--and still more have drivers that aren't properly cleared.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said the problem may be a communication breakdown between school districts and the bus companies they contract with.

His office's report found ten bus drivers whose criminal convictions should have barred them from their jobs. One had a felony assault charge.

The School District of Lancaster had the most violations -- with five. The Philadelphia City District and Allegheny County's Penn Hills District each had two. Delaware County's Chester Upland District had one.

Even more common, though, is school districts failing to fully clear drivers, or to document clearances.

Each driver is supposed to have six documents on record. Of about 1,323 drivers reviewed statewide, 742--more than half--didn't have all the right papers on file.

DePasquale said the issue is confined to districts that use contractor bus services--and he thinks he knows why.

"I think there are some instances when they contract [bussing] out, that they may believe the contractor is doing [background checks]," he said. "That is their mistake."

"This should be a message to all school districts," he added. "It is your responsibility, not the responsibility of the contractor, to make sure the people driving these buses are legally allowed to do it."

All told, the audit found violations in 58 school districts in 28 counties.

Some districts have already corrected the problems--though DePasquale noted, there's not much legal recourse against ones that don't.

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