Two School Bus Accidents In NJ
Several students were injured in school bus accidents in two New Jersey communities on Tuesday.
A driver with a suspended license slid her bus carrying 37 students off Smallwood Lane in Manalapan off into a lamp pole on Tuesday morning reports the Star Ledger.
Driver Kristy Tufte was found to have several bench warrants out for her arrest in addition to a suspended license. She was arrested and posted bail, police said. Tufte has also been fired by the district.
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John J. Marciante Jr., Manalapan-Englishtown Regional Schools superintendent says none of the students on board were injured.
The accident caused the school board to implement an immediate change. Background checks will be conducted on drivers quarterly rather than annually according to a letter posted on the district website by Marciante.
Marciante said the district had received notification from the Motor Vehicle Commission that there were several bench warrants issued for the driver and her license had been suspended. However, the information
wasn’t acted upon.
In Princeton a school bus carrying student athletes from John Witherspoon Middle School hit a tree on Valley causing minor injuries for 5 students according to WPVI TV. Police continue to investigate why the driver lost control.
MESSAGE FROM SUPERINTENDENT Marciante
I want to take this opportunity to let you know all the relevant information regarding the recent school bus accident. First and foremost, thankfully, no children were hurt. The information you may have read regarding the bus driver is accurate. 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.
There are certain rumors and misperceptions that I would like to address. First, all employees of Manalapan Englishtown Regional Schools, including all school bus drivers, have criminal background checks. As required by the Executive County Superintendent, in June of every year, an updated status report of all bus drivers is sent to the County Office. Throughout the year, if a driver’s license has been suspended or revoked, the Motor Vehicle Commission will inform the Criminal History Review Unit. The district is then informed by the Criminal History Review Unit that the identified individual is “ineligible for employment”. The same will occur if an employee is convicted of a crime that leads to an individual being “ineligible for employment”.
As you can see, a system is currently in place that is meant to insure that your child is safe. Unfortunately, while this works 99% of the time, it appears that an error occurred in this instance. While the letter from Criminal History Review Unit was signed for by an employee of the district, the letter did not end up in the driver’s personnel file and was not acted on. I will be reviewing all office procedures to ensure that something of this nature does not happen again. I am also going to direct the Director of Transportation to quarterly update the status of all drivers as a back-up to the new system.
I apologize for the error and I can assure you that it will not happen again. The status of all drivers was reviewed today and all, with this one exception, meet the qualifications for employment in the State of New Jersey. To paraphrase an old saying, the buck stops at my desk. I feel personally responsible and I thank God that no one was hurt.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.