Stricter hiring process for bus drivers in Georgia

Valdosta City Schools is dealing with a bus shortage.
Valdosta City Schools is dealing with a bus shortage.
Published: Mar. 27, 2019 at 7:20 AM EDT
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RICHMOND CO., GA (WRDW/WAGT) - All school bus drivers in Georgia could soon have to be vetted twice a year by public safety.

Georgia lawmakers have passed the bill in the Senate and the House. The Georgia Senate passed HB 459 unanimously Tuesday.

The bill would create a registry of Georgia school bus drivers with the Department of Public Safety.

HB 459 would require Georgia school districts to submit the names and drivers license number of all school bus drivers before they are allowed to operate a school bus.

The Department of Public Safety would then verify the status of each person’s drivers license, and notify local school boards if a drivers license is expired, canceled, suspended or revoked.

It seems like a no-brainer to Evan's mom, Yoce Barksdale.

"You may never know what happened. It may not be on the bus. It may be in everyday driving. They get into an accident or they happen to find out their license is suspended," said Barksdale, a mom of an Evans high student.

Under the bill, that's passed the Georgia house and senate, local school boards would have to update the list twice a year.

"I think it's a good idea especially for the safety of the children," said Barksdale.

Georgia's current law requires local school boards to run background checks and fingerprint drivers before hiring them. It's up to local school boards to create their own hiring policies.

Our I-TEAM uncovered earlier this year that the Richmond County School System was hiring drivers with criminal records and a history of traffic violations, breaking their own policy.

If the governor signs the new bill, school boards would have to suspend drivers who have an invalid license.

“They don’t need to be driving anybody’s children. Not mine anyway,” said Barksdale.

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