School bus drivers needed, but must pass background checks - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

School bus drivers needed, but must pass background checks

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - "We should be able to send our children to school without being harmed by any drivers," says Chattanooga's Tyrone Chain, as he re-applies for his former job with Durham School Services. Chain echoes the sentiments of nearly every parent of a child who rides a Hamilton County school bus. But two high-profile arrests of school bus drivers back in March highlight the vetting process Durham School Services has in finding prospective drivers.

56-year old Anthony Tollis is facing multiple counts relating to child porn after a grand jury indicted him for allegedly possessing such materials, and 34-year old Alex Rodriguez is charged with raping a 15-year old student he drove to and from school. Police say he brought the teenage girl to a Lee Highway hotel where he sexually assaulted her. 

"It's very strict on the application process, that it is, more of the background challenge," says Chain.

"Our initial ones go back ten years but the FBI and fingerprints go back all the way to birth," says Durham's Jennifer Tate, who oversees the safety and training regimen for Durham's newly hired school bus drivers. She says applicants should have a clean driving record for the past 3 years, and that moving violations are a big red flag for the company but lacking a CDL (Commercial Driver's License) isn't necessarily a deal-breaker. 

"If you have a regular Class D driver's license we will still accept you if you meet all the criteria and we handle all the training," says Tate who adds the training costs the company anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 bus driver.

Durham officials say for their last job fair they had a grand total of two applicants apply at the Tennessee Career Center in Eastgate but they counter that more than a dozen came and applied here in at their headquarters off Dodds Avenue.

But Tate says the rate of attrition from applicant to newly hired is relatively steep.  
"For every 100 applicants, we get only ten out of that hundred."

Starting pay is 13.05 an hour with guaranteed 5 and a half hour pay shifts even if the route time is less. Durham says the positions are perfect part-time jobs for the stay at home parent, college student or recent retiree. As for the two accused bus drivers, both had passed their background checks with the company and are awaiting trial.

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