Audit finds school bus drivers with criminal convictions, missing paperwork across PA

LANCASTER, P.A. --- A financial audit of the School District of Lancaster from July 2012 to June 2016 found a problem officials could not foresee.

Further field work found that as of June 2017, 21 out of the 132 bus drivers for the district failed to meet, at least, one employment requirement.

"To say that this is insane would be an understatement," said Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

DePasquale said 11 drivers were without a valid driver's license, proof of completion of school bus driver skills and safety training and evidence of passing a physical exam or any combination of the three.

He also said five bus drivers should have been barred from driving due to criminal convictions.

"The individuals that I'm discussing had convictions for assault, drug pushing and possession of firearms without a license. Yet, they were driving students in Lancaster," said DePasquale.

The School District of Lancaster uses a contractor, Shultz Transportation, for busing students.

While DePasquale said both Shultz Transportation and the school district dropped the ball, he puts the onus on the district.

"If my team did not find this in the audit, those drivers would still be. Driving those buses because the district was not doing it's responsibility on the background checks," said DePasquale.

School District of Lancaster Superintendent Dr. Damaris Rau said they learned the results of the audit in December.

"This was something that should not have happened and we take responsibility for that," said Dr. Rau.

She also said they are correcting the breakdowns in the hiring processes collaboratively with Shultz Transportation.

"Now, we will do all the human resources compliance work so that we ensure that this doesn't happen again. We want to ensure our parents that their kids are safe," said Dr. Rau.

Dr. Rau said the new human resources compliance work by the district will put the hiring of bus drivers on the same platform as teachers and staff.

Shultz Transportation President Mike Kramer said in a statement: "On behalf of Shultz Transportation here is some information we will share regarding the Audit. The employees no longer work for our company and action was taken as soon as we were given the information in conjunction with the SDOL. We have provided additional training to our Human Resource department with regard to acceptable hiring practices. We also have taken the recommendations of the State Audit and with SDOL have put those processes in place. It is our belief that all these changes will prevent any future concerns."

While DePasquale said the School District of Lancaster an "extreme" case, he said this is a problem, statewide.

Auditors found since 2013, 58 schools in 28 counties in Pennsylvania were missing driver documentation.

Of the 1,323 bus driver records, statewide, 724 had definciences.

Including the 5 criminally-convicted drivers in Lancaster, a total of 10 drivers should have been banned from driving students.

DePasquale said this should be a "wake-up" call to school districts.

"From Sandusky to now Nassar at Michigan State, it is amazing how many times the lessons simply are not learned," said DePasquale.

He also said their audit found no discrepancies from districts who do not use contractors and hire, in-house.