HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- A new audit conducted by a state-run agency points out some pretty big failures during the background check process for school bus drivers.
All of the background checks start at the Dept. of Motor Vehicles, but according to the report, a lot more needs to be done to make sure school bus drivers are suitable to get behind the wheel.
For example, a school bus driver could have an arrest that would make them ineligible to be a driver, but if it happened out of state, there’s a chance a DMV background check didn’t catch it because that national information is not always accessible.
The report also shows the DMV isn’t always getting the clearest picture when doing a background check. For example, the audit shows many local police departments are failing to report things like felony arrests to the DMV. And that type of arrest would disqualify someone from being a driver.
The Police Chief's Association said "Reporting procedures are followed by local law enforcement per state statute."
For parents, it’s terrifying news to hear.
“I’m pretty happy that my younger two, I’m picking and dropping them off, but my oldest daughter, I’m really afraid for. I’m hoping the state will deal with this,” said Stacia Parkes, an East Hartford parent.
DATTCO and First Student bus companies said background checks are required to even start training.
In addition to that, they said annual criminal background checks are done independently of the state and they check the disqualified drivers from the DMV list daily.
However, the DMV has no way to verify that's being done.
When it comes to fixing the problem, the audit recommends the state upgrade its background checks with the national criminal and child abuse databases.
The audit also wants the DMV to be able to make sure bus companies are checking the disqualified drivers list and have DMV hound local police to share certain arrests with them.
Many parents also said they are going to contact their local legislator to put some pressure on the department.
The Dept. of Motor Vehicles said the audit was done in 2015-17 under a different administration. They said they are already working on implementing the recommendations.
Read the full audit report here.