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NJ School Bus Accident Prompts Procedure Reviews [POLL]

A Monmouth County school district is reviewing its procedures after it was discovered that a school bus driver involved in an accident with 37 students aboard Tuesday had a suspended license and was wanted on bench warrants.

Ilya Hemlin, Townsquare Media

None of the children were injured in the bus crash in Manalapan, when 37 year-old Kristy Tufte lost control of the bus on Smallwood Lane and crashed into a light pole and tree.

“There were several bench warrants and she was driving with a suspended license. This is unacceptable, and upon receipt of this information, I contacted the Director of Transportation. The driver is no longer an employee of the district,” said Manalapan-Englishtown Regional Schools District Superintendent John Marciante.

Tufte was arrested on the bench warrants and has since been fired from her job, but how did she slip through the cracks?

“Throughout the year we notify the Criminal History Review Unit, which is a part of the state Department of Education, if a school bus driver’s license has been suspended or revoked or if there are DWI’s or anything like that” said Motor Vehicle Commission spokesman Mike Horan.

Marciante says an employee signed for a letter from the state about Tufte but it was never acted on.

“I guess these things can sometimes slip by but when we are notified by the state about a driver suspension or reason they must be removed from the vehicle we do it immediately” said Barbara Sargeant, a school transportation coordinator at Central Regional School District in Ocean County.

The accident has prompted the district to conduct new background checks for school bus drivers on a quarterly rather than annual basis.

“We have one of the most stringent school bus inspection programs in the country and all of these bus crashes in the news recently only reinforces the need for us to stay on top of it” said Horan.

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