A new report out of Memphis indicates that 66 bus drivers from Durham School Services were not properly licensed.
Durham is the same company that operates buses in Chattanooga, where a recent crash resulted in 6 deaths.
Jennifer Pignolet of the Commercial Appeal reports:
The company that runs school transportation for Shelby County Schools and other districts contracted with a Memphis driving academy not authorized to license school bus drivers.
Sixty-six drivers actively employed by Durham School Services across Shelby County will have to retake their commercial driver’s license test over winter break after the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security suspended operation of Private First Class Driving Academy.
Her story also notes:
Durham has previously come under fire from local school officials. An examination of police records in late 2014 found that Durham school bus drivers had been involved in at least 32 wrecks in Shelby County during the school year, a 27 percent increase over the previous year. Bus drivers were cited in 18 of those incidents.
I previously noted reports of Durham’s safety record which raised questions about the vendor when compared with similar bus operators.
According to federal safety data, Durham School Services has been involved in 346 crashes in the past two years. These accidents have resulted in 142 injuries and 3 fatalities. During that same time period, the company was cited 53 times for “unsafe driving conditions”. According to data compiled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “93% of motor carriers in the same safety event group have better on-road performance” than Durham.
The repeated issues with Durham School Services raise questions about both the vendor and about outsourcing essential school services generally. An earlier piece noted that the push to outsource bus services may be the result of under-funded schools systems searching for financial answers.
Unfortunately, outsourcing bus services may have immediate financial benefits, but rarely results in long-term savings. The issues around Durham’s performance also raise troubling questions about safety.
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