If you have experience driving a bus in the past, you might think about a job as a school bus driver.
The issue for you is whether or not you are allowed to drive a school bus as a felon.
In this blog post, we’ll cover the following:
- What Is a School Bus Driver?
- Qualifications to Drive a School Bus
- Becoming a School Bus Driver
- Background Check?
- Does the Type of Felony Make a Difference?
- An Opportunity for Felons?
- Steps to Take
What Is a School Bus Driver?
A school bus driver is just as the name implies. This is someone who drives a school bus daily to transport students from home to school and back.
You are probably familiar with them and likely may have ridden on a school bus yourself during your childhood. Maybe you had children yourself that were taken back and forth to school in this way.
Qualifications to Drive a School Bus
Just because you want to drive a school bus doesn’t mean that you can apply for a job as one and expect to have a chance to be hired. There are qualifications that you must meet.
- Be at least 21 years old (in most states)
- Have a valid CDL, usually Class B with passenger (P) and school bus (S) endorsements
- Pass an annual mental and physical exam
- Maintain an acceptable driving record
- Be certified in school bus safety education
- Meet certain guidelines for criminal offenses
Drivers must complete a training program involving classroom and road learning.
Becoming a School Bus Driver
OK, now you’ve read the requirements to become a school bus driver. So how does this go?
The first step is to get a CDL to allow you to drive a vehicle like a school bus. For some felons, this could be a challenge, but it is possible to get a CDL with a felony conviction.
Now, not only do you need a CDL, but you must have the proper endorsements. First, you will need a passenger (P) endorsement that is required to drive passenger vehicles that can carry at least 16 passengers. This endorsement requires drivers to know how to load/unload passengers, respond to emergencies, and deal with troublesome passengers.
You will also be required to carry out other duties related to transporting passengers of different ages. Then you will be required to have a school bus endorsement (S), which requires you to first pass the passenger endorsement test. There are several aspects to a school bus endorsement.
To earn a school bus endorsement, drivers must be able to:
- Load and unload children
- Properly operate the lights, stop signs, and other warning devices on the school bus
- Handle other needs specific to transporting children to and from school
Of course, if you qualify for CDL training, measuring up in these ways will not be so challenging.
But now we come to the one area that can be quite a challenge for felons to deal with.
Yes, there will be a background check. One of the issues here is not if there is a background check, but what that check entails. The reason for this difference is that the majority of school districts in the U.S. provide school bus service through outside companies. This means there is no strict rule as to how you are screened in a criminal background check.
Each state sets its own particular rules within its school districts.
As you might expect, any background check that is conducted will be rather strict as a position as a school bus driver will involve interacting with children.
The school and parents will have high demands on anyone who is charged with driving their kids to and from school on a regular basis.
It will typically not be enough to examine your criminal record. Your driving record will also be important.
Background checks for a school bus driver often will cover not just the past seven years, but in many states you cannot have a felony or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude within the past 10 years. If you aren’t familiar with the term moral turpitude, it is a crime against the community standards involving justice, honesty, and good morals.
To look at this further, in some states like Ohio, a check will be run at the state and federal level as part of the pre-employment investigation.
The background check will verify if you have a CDL with the appropriate designations. It will also determine if you have served as a school bus driver in the past and your employment history as a bus driver. Then, the check will examine your driver history and whether or not you have any violations for reckless or unsafe driving.
Having a DUI in the past 10 years will also eliminate you from consideration from a school bus driving job. Even if you pass this check and to get a school bus driver license, you will face another background check by any company you apply to.
Does the Type of Felony Make a Difference?
Based on what you have read so far about a background check for this type of position, you may have some idea about the answer here.
Serious violations on your driving record will eliminate you from becoming a school bus driver.
This would include having:
- At least six points on your driving record
- At least two serious violations in the past two years
- Any railroad violation in the last 12 months
- A DUI offense in the last six years
Other similar motor vehicle violations, which would significantly impair your ability to perform the duties of a bus driver would eliminate you.
In terms of felony offenses, you cannot be employed if there is a conviction for a serious crime within the past five years, including:
- Aggravated assault
- Statutory rape
- Endangering the welfare of children
All of this information can seem overwhelming. However, states are serious about protecting their kids while coming and going to school.
An Opportunity for Felons?
Well, let’s look at this. If you get through all of that, there’s a chance to be a school bus driver.
You know that you must be honest in reporting everything about your history, as far as work and criminal aspects.
If you don’t come clean about all this, you run a huge risk of not only being turned down at any point in the process, but you could be charged with a felony for being fraudulent in disclosing the information.
This could result in your returning to prison. Not a good way to go!
But, if you are honest, all indications are that the following will be considered in your behalf to determine your worthiness:
- Age when the crime occurred
- Circumstances of the crime
- Seriousness of the offense
- Criminal history and likelihood that future crimes will be committed
- Length of time since the conviction
- Any evidence supporting good moral character and personal fitness
Steps to Take
If you are serious about becoming a school bus driver you can go through the process of getting a CDL with the necessary designations.
You need to consider running a background check on yourself to see what will be discovered when any employer, especially for a school bus driving position. That way you will be prepared and not get thrown off when a background check is done. You could also look into having your record expunged if you are eligible.
Now you can move forward and give yourself the best opportunity to become a school bus driver.
It still might not work out for you. If it doesn’t, it isn’t the end of the world. It would mean that being a school bus driver might not be in your future. That doesn’t mean that you can’t find a job. It just might be that your future is in another area. There are employers who will give you a chance.
You just need to look until you find that employer and a job. Keep moving forward. And remember that you aren’t defined by your mistakes, but you can define yourself by how you recover from them.
What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to drive a school bus driver with a felony? What was that like, and what happened? Please tell us in the comments below.