Bus drivers accused of traffic violations still driving for Metr - WSMV News 4

Bus drivers accused of traffic violations still driving for Metro Schools

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School bus drivers across Middle Tennessee are still allowed to drive after they receive complaints. (WSMV) School bus drivers across Middle Tennessee are still allowed to drive after they receive complaints. (WSMV)

There has been a lot of scrutiny on school bus drivers since a deadly school bus crash in Chattanooga last November.

The Channel 4 I-Team has found more bus drivers speeding and driving recklessly with children on board. Many of them are still out there driving.

The I-Team has been asking Metro Schools for copies of bus driver complaints for four months. After receiving the complaints, the I-Team took them to state lawmakers who said more needs to be done before another child loses his or her life.

When the I-Team first asked Metro Schools for documents showing bus driver complaints we were told they couldn't provide us that information.

“Is the department bring transparent enough when it comes to complaints being made against bus drivers?” the I-Team’s Lindsay Bramson asked Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph.

Before Joseph could answer, the district’s communications director at the time said, “We’ve already gotten back to you about that public records request, and we’re processing it.”

The complaints show everything from speeding to making illegal turns to driving on the wrong side of the road.

"What goes through my mind is what the heck is going on with the school buses?” said Sen. Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville, who sits on the transportation committee.

Briggs said he had no idea there were nearly 400 complaints made in just six months until the I-Team told him.

"Are you surprised when you see some of these?” Bramson asked.

“Yes, yes I am. Running a red light at the intersection. That’s unacceptable,” Briggs replied.

The records show only four of the drivers were terminated. In one case, a driver was fired after records show when students were acting up, the driver slammed on his brakes, causing a child to hit his head on the seat in front of him.

In dozens of other cases, the I-Team found drivers accused by people of traffic violations given warnings.

Last August, someone called to report a school bus driver driving recklessly with students on board. According to the complaint, the caller said the driver almost hit him. In that case, the district gave what they call verbal counseling. That driver is still driving a school bus.

The I-Team asked Briggs if he thinks there’s enough oversight for bus drivers.

“Obviously not,” he said.

“Is that a problem when you see these bus drivers still behind the wheel?” Bramson asked.

“It’s a problem for me,” Briggs replied.

Briggs recalled the crash from December 2014 in Knoxville when a bus driver was texting while driving and crashed into another bus. Two children, ages 6 and 7, were killed, along with the driver and an aspiring teacher.

Six children were killed in the bus crash in Chattanooga last November. Authorities said the driver was speeding, swerved off the road and hit a tree.

“For whatever reason, it doesn’t seem like the drivers are being trained and screened the way they should. This is where the state does need to step in,” Briggs said.

The I-Team wanted to speak to someone with Metro Schools about these complaints, but our request for an interview was declined.

Briggs said the next step is to have a comprehensive review of bus drivers all over Tennessee.

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