|Audit Calls for Change in Missouri School Transportation|
|Written by David Wegbreit|
|Tuesday, 12 August 2008 00:00|
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Some districts transporting 560,000 Missouri school children may not be consistently doing their job to ensure that all drivers undergo criminal record checks and drug testing and meet training requirements, according to a report by the state auditor.
All new Missouri school bus drivers and aides must undergo fingerprint-based background checks. Drivers must also complete a minimum of eight hours of in-service training and federal law requires at least 50 percent of drivers undergo random drug testing. However, according to the audit, problems occurred in part because districts and contractors relied on third-parties for drug testing and did not question whether testing procedures met federal requirements.
To improve compliance, the report suggested the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education issue additional guidance for districts and contractors. Oversight could also be improved by requiring districts to conduct periodic self-assessment of compliance with state and federal regulations, the report noted.
But Deborah Clink of the department’s school transportation section says districts were found to be largely in compliance. A few large but isolated operations (about 5 of 30 districts) skewed the results of the audit, Clink said. She also noted that both the training requirement and the fingerprint requirement were relatively new.
Missouri Association for Pupil Transportation President Dennis Robertson agrees. Robertson said Raytown School District, where he is transportation director, was not reviewed in the audit but meets all requirements. He does not think more legislation would be helpful. But information, like the audit, can help districts, especially the state’s numerous small districts, understand their responsibilities, he said.
"I’m hoping that was an eye opener to everyone who was listening," Robertson added.
Read the whole report online.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 05 November 2009 18:44|