Parents put a great deal of trust in the person behind the wheel when they load their kids on the bus and send them to school.
Before a bus driver is hired in West Virginia they have to pass a drug and alcohol test and a background check.
“Background checks will show any time a person has been arrested whether it has been dismissed or what,” explained Jimmy Lacy with Kanawha County Schools. “No matter what the charges are it will always show up on your background check. It checks for registered sex offenders felons or if they have been convicted of a misdemeanor.”
But after that initial background check drivers are not checked again.
“They can have a clean background check today it doesn’t mean they haven’t done something after they were finger printed,” Lacy said.
Because drivers have to have a CDL the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires random drug testing. But the standards for testing were reduced drastically as of January 1, 2016. Now only a quarter of the fleet is subject to random testing. Before the requirement was half of the fleet.
Each county school system is responsible for paying for that testing at a cost of about $100 per test.
Besides the random drug testing, drivers are also subject to testing after an accident and if there is a reasonable suspicion they may be using drugs. Bus driver certification is handed down from the West Virginia Department of Education. The state can revoke that certification if they have reason to do so.