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November 13, 2013  |   Comments (6)   |   Post a comment

Rhode Island lawmaker aims to expand school bus staff checks

By Thomas McMahon


EAST GREENWICH, R.I. — The arrest of a school bus monitor on child pornography charges has spurred an effort to widen background checks for bus personnel.

Scott Sanford, an Ocean State Transit monitor for East Greenwich Public Schools, was arrested on Oct. 31 for alleged possession and transfer of child pornography. Among the riders on Sanford's bus was state Rep. Anthony Giarrusso's son.

While the monitor had passed the state background check that Rhode Island requires, Giarrusso said that that measure isn't enough. The legislator said that he would introduce a bill to also require national background checks for school bus drivers and monitors in the state.

"No employee screening process is perfect, but at the very least, criminal background checks from both [Rhode Island] and national databases ought to be requirements," Giarrusso said in a message sent to school district parents and posted on East Greenwich Patch.

Sanford reportedly did not have a criminal record in any state.

The school bus monitor was terminated by Ocean State Transit, and a court ordered him to not have any contact with children under age 18 or access to the Internet.

Victor Mercurio, superintendent of East Greenwich Public Schools, and Ocean State Transit representatives held a meeting last week to provide updates on the matter and to answer questions.

"Please be assured that the East Greenwich Public Schools considers the safety of its students as its highest priority," Mercurio said in a message to parents, "and I will continue to pursue every means possible to ensure that safety."

Giarrusso said that there had been no evidence that Sanford exploited any of the children on the bus.

"And I hope and pray that it remains that way through the investigation," Giarrusso said.

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Read more about: aide/monitor, Rhode Island

Im a bus driver in Ri. My monitor talks on the cell while unloading student's. Was does nothing.I thought this is illegal? What do I do next?

pat    |    Nov 01, 2014 05:32 AM

I do holy agree with the federal back ground check. my concern is that a person can pass the bci and federal background check if they where never convicted of any crime. till the crime it was done. so how can we know ?

concern    |    Feb 27, 2014 05:38 PM

In response to Sherry, another perspective, Washington state leaves this for districts to decide. The biggest issue I see is if the 4 year old is not enrolled in school in that district. If the child is not a student, then this becomes a big liability concern for that district. Our district does not allow drivers to keep their children/grandchildren/etc on the bus with them, the school bus is not for baby sitting. The exception is and of course has to be if the child happens to be riding the family members route to/from their bus stop or if on an activity/field trip. Indeed, drivers often bid on activities just so they can driver their young family member. A great bonus to this job! Good question Sherry!

Susan Tibke    |    Nov 19, 2013 02:00 PM

sherry should mind her own business is my answer.

Noneya Bizness    |    Nov 18, 2013 04:24 AM

I'm surprised that RI doesn't conduct a BCI/FBI check like everywhere else I've driven school bus. I started my career in Newport RI 25 years ago and I seem to recall an FBI check back then so what changed?

Annie Clarke    |    Nov 14, 2013 08:14 AM

I have a question to ask cant seem to find the answer to.....I know of a man who has been bringing his now 4 year old grandson atleast 1-2 times a week on his schoolbus while picking up students. Is it against the law seeing how there are no carseats or seat belts for the child and also we have addressed this issue several times to the childs mother who works and has no sitter so now he has been sick for the last week with a very bad cold and his dad has shared custody of him and 90% of the time the child is with him but when mom picks him up she leaves him with her parents who both are a school bus driver and a school bus monitor... my concerns are if something happens and he gets hurt the driver could cause a accident by keeping a eye on him so no proper care or safety for the child please help with this before something happens thank you.....

sherry vanni    |    Nov 13, 2013 05:36 PM

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