PRECIOUS CARGO: Driver Background Checks

Police say a West Des Moines school bus driver was going too fast when he crashed into a house on Monday. The driver, 42-year old Anthony Banks, was ticketed for failure to maintain control. It was his third traffic violation this year

Transportation officials for Johnston’s School District say obtaining applicants’ past personal driving record is a part of their background check, but it’s not always a “make or break” factor.

“It depends when it was, what it was, how serious it was. You don’t necessarily eliminate someone just because of that,” explained Michael Volz, the Director of Transportation for the Johnston School District.

Volz said they have had four minor bus accidents this year. Only one of their drivers was let go.

He also said that Johnston’s bus driving staff is not as full as they would like- he explained they lack “fill in” drivers. Days like Thursday that can be tough: they had to pull 17 people from other positions to drive the buses. However, he said they are willing to deal with situations like that, over the risk of putting non-qualified drivers behind the wheel.

“Look at the cargo. These aren’t boxes. These are kids that have futures and excitement and everything else, and the driver is the one that gets them home safe every day,” said Volz.

There are requirements under state law for school bus drivers. Each district also does background checks, and drug tests.


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