Background checks now mandatory for Montana school bus drivers


Montana school bus drivers are now required by law to undergo criminal background checks, due to a recent state Board of Public Education rule change. The Board passed the new rule on Thursday, on the heels of an audit that revealed 64 of Montana's roughly 1,500 drivers had a criminal history during the 2011-2012 school year. The rules now dictate that divers have a good driving record, meaning the drivers can't have more than one moving violation for each of the last three years, or license suspensions within the last five years. NBC Montana caught up with several parents who said the rule changes should have been in effect in the first place. "Personally I have no problem giving up my information like that. If I was working with kids like I do, or driving them around, I would certainly expect that to be done," said Mike Schilling, who is visiting Montana but grew up in the Flathead Valley.

"I think it's better to be proactive about safety especially concerning our children," said Missoula parent Tara Smart. Beach Transportation, which handles Missoula Schools' school bus needs, has already been requiring background checks. Safety Director Tracie Hoffman was happy to hear that now the checks will be mandatory statewide. "If I was going to put my students or my kids, my personal kids, or grandchildren on the buses, at least I would have a reassurance that there's been a background check into that person's character, into their driving record, that sort of thing," said Hoffman.