'First Student' Bus Contract Controversy

By Stefano DiPietrantonio SDiPietrantonio@fox19.com

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - New troubles for an already embattled school bus company. First Student may be in danger of being shut-down by the Ohio Department Of Public Safety.

This is a bus company, already on probation, and now they have to explain how six drivers were working without papers showing they had passed all the proper background checks.

"First Student has violated Ohio Administrative Code requirements they maintained records for all of their drivers for a period of 1-year plus current year," said Tom Hunter, Communications Director for the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

Six drivers out of twenty-six in the Miami Valley area did not have the proper paperwork on-file to show they've passed all the proper background checks.

These new violations against a company already on probation for a similar incident in 2007. The Ohio Department Of Public Safety said it's eager to hear from First Student. Hunter said, "We are advising them that we are proposing to suspend, revoke or take other disciplinary action authorized by law against them for the violation."

Just this week FOX19 learned of a couple of incidents involving First Student buses.

"I think that's outrageous." FOX19 spoke to a mom who asked not to be identified on camera or by name in print. She said she hopes more parents keep a close eye on First Student. She filed a police report last week claiming her daughter had been raped on a First Student bus. "I would not allow my daughter ever to ride a first student bus, any of their busses again," she said.

FOX19 also reported on a First Student bus was involved in an accident on Spring Grove. There were no kids on-board and there is still no word on which driver was at fault.

As for their current situation, First Student has 10 days to respond.

"We believe this only to be isolated to this one location. we have conducted audits of other first student facilities throughout the Southwest Ohio Region as well as other areas of the state where they have contracts," Hunter said.

The Ohio Department Of Public Safety believes this is not a widespread problem with First Student.

"I think it's a rush to judgement for anyone to believe that there's an imminent threat of any disruption of bussing services for the Cincinnati district or any other district served by First Student," Hunter said.

Cincinnati Public Schools echoed that sentiment Friday with a statement:

"Regardless of the outcome of this process, based on conversations with the state, we anticipate no disruption of bus service for our students.

Late Friday First Student sent a statement to FOX19, and said the discrepancy revolved around training documentation. First Student said it re-ran the background checks and all six drivers had no issues.

FOX19 shared that statement with ODPS and they responded and said they had not seen that statement as yet, but will only confirm that a meeting took place today between attorneys representing the Ohio Department Of Public Safety and First Student.

Stay tuned to FOX19 for the very latest!

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