PORTAGE, MI - A drunken driving case in Portage, Mich., involving a Coloma Community Schools bus driver, is providing a national spotlight on the issue of commercial driver background checks and procedures.
According to the Kalamazoo Gazette and other local media outlets, school bus driver Jennifer Lynne Moore was arraigned Dec. 13 on charges that she was intoxicated while driving a school bus Dec. 10. At the time of her arrest, the bus passengers included a school counselor, two teachers and about 35 eighth- and ninth-graders who are part of an honor's program at the district's junior high school. The group was in Portage while en route to visit Western Michigan University and attend a WMU hockey game.
District officials are trying to determine why Moore remained on staff after a fingerprint background check resulted in the district being notified in April that she had a previous misdemeanor DUI on her record from Georgia.
The school district hired Moore in October 2009. She obtained her commercial driver's license through the state of Michigan after being hired. A state of Michigan criminal background check revealed no previous offenses in the state, according to the district. But in April 2010, the district received results from a broader, national background check based on Moore's fingerprints. Those results were reportedly placed in a personnel file and no action was taken at the time.
Coloma Community Schools Superintendent Terry Boguth told the Kalamazoo Gazette she was not aware of the previous drunken driving conviction until she asked an employee to review Moore's personnel file after the latest arrest.
Boguth said district officials have now adopted a new policy in which no employees hired by the district can start their position until their fingerprint background check results has been received and reviewed. In addition, the district is investigating why it took six months to receive Moore's fingerprint background check results.