Following release from prison, felons want to return to society and resume their lives.
Many who have served a long sentence may not have the best job skills or job history.
Those who are released, after being locked up for so long, spending most of their time inside a confined space, often think of pursuing a job that allows them freedom and the chance to be on the go.
Some may think of working with children by driving a school bus.
This blog post will cover the question of whether a felon can drive a school bus.
- Qualifications to Drive a School Bus
- Duties of a School Bus Driver
- Important Factors for Felons
- Making Their Case for Employment
- Supporting a Felon in Driving a School Bus
Qualifications to Drive a School Bus
For those who want to drive a school bus, there are certain qualifications that must be met.
- 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
- Have no felony or misdemeanor convictions for a crime of moral turpitude (conduct that is against community standards of justice, honesty, or good morals)
Drivers must complete a training program involving classroom and road learning.
Bus drivers must obtain a CDL with the proper endorsements:
A passenger (P) endorsement 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, deal with troublesome passengers, and other duties related to transporting passengers of different ages.
A school bus endorsement (S) requires drivers to first pass the passenger endorsement test.
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, and other needs specific to transporting children on a pre-determined bus route to and from school.
Duties of a School Bus Driver
Bus drivers pick up students along established routes and drop them off at school. They also transport students to special events.
They must be attentive to traffic and weather conditions and ensure passenger safety.
Drivers are responsible for making sure their vehicle is operating properly each day. They maintain a safe environment on the bus by enforcing rules of conduct and responding to emergencies.
They keep track of the number of students transported each week and the amount of fuel used.
Being a school bus driver means more than just transporting children. Students often consider their school bus driver as a friend, and parents entrust the safety of their children to the bus driver daily.
Important Factors for Felons
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 applicants are screened for a criminal background check.
Each state sets its own particular rules within its school districts.
In Ohio, for example, their background check consists of three steps:
- Pre-employment state and federal background checks are conducted. A specific list of convictions are screened for, including murder, weapons and drug crimes, and violent offenses. Anyone with any of these felonies is prohibited from working with students in Ohio.
- An updated background check is performed every six years after employment starts.
- All drivers are checked nightly against the arrest and criminal activity records of the state’s Bureau of Criminal Identification. Drivers arrested for any crime are ineligible to drive while charges are pending.
Also in Ohio, all school bus drivers’ driving records are checked at least twice each school year.
Any driver with at least six points on their record, at least two serious violations in the past two years, any railroad violation in the last 12 months, or a DUI offense in the last six years cannot drive a bus.
In Pennsylvania, an applicant for school bus driver cannot be employed if there is a conviction for a serious crime, such as aggravated assault, kidnapping, statutory rape, or endangering the welfare of children within the past five years.
In the state of Washington, an applicant for school bus driver will be denied for any crime in the past 10 years, including motor vehicle violations, which would “materially and substantially impair a person’s worthiness and ability to perform the duties of a bus driver.” The following information is fairly standard among states and will be considered to determine an individual’s 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
Making Their Case for Employment
Felons must take their situation seriously and have a goal of driving a school bus. No, it won’t be easy to get hired. But there is an opportunity available to those who want it.
Doing the things that it will take to reach that goal and get that bus driver job will be challenging, but what hasn’t been since leaving prison?
Felons need to be willing to do what it takes.
Seeking expungement or sealing of their records can help significantly.
The Guide to Getting Employed is available to those who want that goal. There are stories of success and tips for presenting themselves in a favorable light.
When it comes to their employment record, having a quality resume is essential.
Supporting a Felon Wanting to Drive a School Bus
For families of felons wanting to drive a school bus, take the time to help your loved one in their efforts to get further education or training.
Support them in returning to society and finding a way to succeed and make a difference.
An earlier blog post showed felons make good employees.
School districts need quality bus drivers. There is no reason why felons can’t be that quality driver. Be there for your loved one as they work to be one of those who doesn’t return to prison within two years.
What do you think about this blog post? Are you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to get a job as a school bus driver with a felony? What was that like for them, and how did they achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.