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November 01, 2011  |   Comments (3)   |   Post a comment

N.J. bill would mandate background checks for bus aides


TRENTON, N.J. — Assemblywoman Connie Wagner is pushing legislation that would augment criminal background check requirements for school bus personnel to include all adults given responsibility for the safety of schoolchildren, which she said would close a loophole that left out bus aides.

"This is about protecting our kids and reducing the liability on school districts. If bus drivers must be subjected to criminal background checks, so should the personnel riding on the bus and interacting with our children," Wagner said. "A bus driver must remain in their seat while the vehicle is moving, while a bus aide is free to roam the bus at all times. It is just common sense to make them undergo the same scrutiny as the driver."

The measure (A4030) also would enhance penalties against any employee found tampering with a school bus' onboard monitoring device.

Wagner said the changes were spurred in part by last year's arrest of a South Jersey bus aide on allegations that he had repeatedly molested a young girl. While the accused did not have a criminal record, Wagner said the incident highlighted the loophole that exempted bus aides from the background check requirements.

The "School Bus Safety and Child Protection Act" would clarify current law by requiring bus drivers and aides in both public and charter school districts — as well as for any school that receives public funding for busing — to undergo criminal background checks prior to employment. Private and parochial schools would be fully authorized to conduct similar checks on their bus personnel.

Any employee accused of committing a disqualifying offense would be suspended until the case is resolved — with a conviction or other admission of guilt resulting in immediate termination.

"School bus safety is about more than just making sure buses are inspected and drivers are properly skilled. It's about making sure that all those involved in transporting our children have their best interests at heart," Wagner said. "At the end of the day, parents should have the peace of mind knowing their children are in the best of hands while traveling to school."

The bill also would tighten the rules on school bus monitoring. School districts that have cameras to monitor onboard activities on their buses would be required to randomly view the recordings at some point during the school year.

Tampering with an onboard monitoring device would be a fourth degree crime, punishable by up to 18 months of jail time and fines of up to $10,000, or both.

Wagner said she hopes the measure will begin making its way through the Legislature as soon as the Assembly reconvenes.

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Read more about: aide/monitor, New Jersey

How about you stop wasting NJ Taxpayer dollars and do your research. This law has been on the books for years. Instead of trying to put in feel good legislation for your lack of work in the last 3 years so you can get re-elected in November, just do your job all year long every year. Personally I think since you obviously don't know the laws of your state you should stop trying to be a career politician, get your hand out of our pockets and start helping NJ Taxpayers with real reform and tax relief.

Tom    |    Nov 04, 2011 09:55 AM

The National Transportation department officials in Washington, DC could enact a federal requirement that ALL school bus personnel involved with transportation of our Nation's children, from office personnel, contracted personnel, third party personnel, just anyone who is involved with public schools basically should have a criminal back ground check. The only reasons States or local schools are not following through with criminal back ground checks is because there is NO follow up in the process to verify that your back ground checks have been processed. School boards put people in jobs that most of the time some may not have the experience in transportation or even in public education at all. It is very important to have a hire-in check list of every single step in the training/hiring process in your State or local school systems. Put into the mix of a fleet contractor company contracted to your local school systems and in the school board approved contract that "employer" has to have back ground checks. Someone needs to follow up on all their back ground checks.

Dan Luttrell    |    Nov 02, 2011 05:57 AM

Its about time, I have been in this field for 30 plus years 27 as a supervisor. I support this. Where I work we use inhouse teacher asst. to ride the buses that transport our students,this is the best of both worlds. The teacher assitants are already checked out they are also well inserviced on numberous matter, most have cpr or first aide training. Great Idea hope it passed. Tom

Thomas urtz    |    Nov 01, 2011 02:00 PM

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