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To:                    Superintendents of Schools, Business Managers and Transportation Supervisors

From:                Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner of Education

Subject:             Criminal Background Check and Fingerprinting Requirements for Pupil Transportation Personnel

Date:                 May 10, 2005

            During the regional school transportation safety conferences, the question was asked: Are drivers that the school hires or contracts to transport students required to have criminal background checks and be fingerprinted?”   Unfortunately a simple yes or no response is not sufficient to fully answer this question.   The complete answer is based on the reality that drivers who transport students for schools may frequently be required to be alone, one on one, with a student.

            First, school bus drivers must have criminal background checks and be fingerprinted.   Likewise, individuals that the school may contract with for student transportation to be provided either in the individual’s car or in a school-owned vehicle also must have a criminal background check and be fingerprinted.   Parents providing transportation services to their own children or children living in their own household are of course exempt from this requirement.

            The second group is more difficult to define.   These include drivers working for transportation companies that are contracted with or authorized by school officials to provide transportation in public transit type vehicles including but not limited to coach transit type buses, allowable alternative buses and taxi cabs.   The statute does not include these individuals in the criminal background check and fingerprinting requirement.   However, the Department strongly recommends that school administrators include language to require a criminal background check and fingerprinting for all drivers covered under a contract for pupil transportation services.   In the rare situation where compliance with this recommendation is not possible, school officials should implement policies and procedures to assure that the student is accompanied by an adult that has met the criminal background check and fingerprinting requirements and that the student is never left alone with the driver.   This is a precaution and a standard of care that is fundamental to providing safe transportation for our student population.

If you have any questions regarding this requirement and recommendation, please contact Rose Mary Muir at 624-6603 or Harvey Boatman at 624-6884.