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The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

FOI at work...

The Columbus Dispatch takes a look at school bus driver safety, thanks to FOI...

The state handed Robert R. Casey a license two months ago to drive a big yellow school bus and collect kids in Cambridge.

The 49-year-old had been convicted nine times for driving under the influence of alcohol, and once for public intoxication, between 1980 and 1990.

Anton Mantz, 50, has ushered schoolchildren around Newark since 1996. His six DUIs and a drug-abuse conviction from the 1980s went undetected.

In Bridgeport, along the Ohio River in Belmont County, John Knight, 36, is a substitute driver with a record that includes five DUIs, two of them as recent as 2003 and 2004.

"That’s ridiculous," said Doug Scoles, executive director of the central Ohio chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. "That should be a red flag for the citizens of Ohio."

The safety of thousands of Ohio schoolchildren has been entrusted to more than 150 bus drivers with histories of drunken driving or drug abuse, a Dispatch investigation found.

The near-universal reaction of school officials when informed that they had hired drivers with checkered pasts: "We didn’t know."

State laws, practice and policies make it virtually impossible for school officials to review complete driving histories maintained by the state.

The shortcomings have placed more than 150 schoolbus drivers on the road who might otherwise have been barred from delivering children between their homes and classrooms.

The Dispatch checked the driving records of school-bus drivers in 36 counties in central, eastern and southeastern Ohio. The newspaper examined public records from municipal courts, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles and Nexis, a subscription service that collects public records across the country.

The newspaper found 167 drivers with DUI or drug-related license suspensions who drive, or drove recently, for 106 school districts, schools for the developmentally disabled and Head Start programs.

The majority have one drunken-driving conviction, most before 2000. But six drivers have three DUI convictions, and 14 have been nailed twice. The records of six other drivers reflect drug-related license suspensions.

The newspaper compared driving records to a state database that listed the names of bus drivers, as submitted by school districts last summer...

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