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Thursday, December 07, 2006

What's going on at the DMV regarding background checking bus drivers?

As everyone knows, I'm not really on top of all the news nowadays. CTLauyrn is a cutie but MAN is she a handful so I can be on top of everything right now.

Unfortunately, with my guard down, I missed this story.
Robert B. Fountain was arrested on a crack-cocaine charge in March 2005, and by April of that year he had racked up misdemeanor convictions for stealing cash and a car from a friend.

But because of bureaucratic mishaps and a sluggish suspension process, Fountain was able to obtain and keep a temporary license to drive schoolchildren for almost two months despite a criminal record that would have automatically disqualified him.

Even after Fountain struck and killed a pedestrian on Oct. 20, dragging him with a school bus, the Department of Motor Vehicles waited five days to officially suspend his license. What's more, Fountain gained that license back just a week and a half ago even though the agency was aware that Fountain allegedly had cocaine in his system when the bus he was driving struck and killed 65-year-old Dean Carlson in West Hartford.
Now I don't know about you, but two things come to mind. 1). How and the hell does someone with a criminal record gets to become a bus driver and 2). why hasn't someone at the DMV been fired.

Oh, it gets worse.
Responding to The Courant's questions about the Fountain case and the licensing process, DMV officials Thursday halted the issuing of school bus licenses. It vowed to review the issuing of Fountain's school bus license and those of all holders, and appointed the deputy commissioner to lead a task force on licensing procedures, including background checks and the speed of the license suspension process. The DMV overhauled the school bus driver licensing system in 2000, after The Courant reported that hundreds of drivers had been convicted of violent felonies and drug sales.
Okay, the DMV system was "overhauled" yet this cokehead not only got passed the system and while having coke in his system, drove a bus and hit someone, according to the Courant, the DMV waiting FIVE days to suspend his license and GAVE him his license back.

It this crazy? As a parent, should I be concerned?
Fountain's contact with the DMV began on Aug. 5, when he first received a learner's permit for a commercial driver's license, a step required to later obtain an "s endorsement," a designation attached to a commercial driver's license that allows a licensee to drive a school bus.

About two weeks later, on Aug. 17, Fountain submitted the necessary paperwork to obtain his "s endorsement," including the disclosure of any arrests. He did not disclose any.

Fountain's name was run through a state police criminal database on the same day and came back with no hits, so he was cleared to take the tests to receive his commercial driver's license and temporary "s endorsement." He received both on Sept. 8.

DMV spokesman William Seymour could not say why the initial check failed to show the record.

"All I can say is that there's some certainty on our side that we had the correct information," Seymour said.

State police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance did not provide an answer to the question.

Now, faced with the embarrassment of the entire matter, Governor Rell is getting into the matter.
If the system was overhauled in 2000 and this happened, what's the chances that Gov. Rell's crackdown will show that this bus driver wasn't the only person who got around the system?

Regardless of the the results of this crackdown, someone has some explaining to do about this matter. This isn't a partisan issue...we're talking about children's safety.