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Published: Tuesday, 5/17/2011

Transportation audit planned by Wauseon school district

BLADE STAFF

WAUSEON -- A week after accepting the resignation of a bus driver accused of driving his route intoxicated, the Wauseon Board of Education said Monday the district's transportation department would be undergoing "a thorough transportation audit" this month.

The board said it also plans to increase the frequency with which bus drivers undergo random drug and alcohol testing and to work with local police to make sure they "are on the same page should a similar incident occur in the future."

Bus driver Chad Bachman's resignation was accepted by the board May 9. He was approached by Wauseon police April 29 after running his morning route and was asked to take a portable breath-alcohol test. His alcohol level was three times the legal limit for driving, and he resigned on the spot.

School officials said they had received third-party tips that the driver was intoxicated on the job, but they had no evidence to indicate the information was true. "The blatant disregard that this bus driver had for the safety of children sickens and angers all of us," the board, superintendent, and transportation director said in a news release. "Please know the Wauseon Exempted Village Schools takes the safe transporting of our school children very seriously and is constantly striving to perform at an even higher level."

Superintendent Marc Robinson said that as part of an internal investigation of the incident and how it was handled, officials have been in communication with Pete Japiske, transportation director for the Ohio Department of Education. Their discussions covered how the situation was handled, what was done correctly, and what could have been handled better.

Mr. Japiske offered to have his staff conduct an audit of the school district's transportation department -- at no cost to the school -- and the district took him up on that offer.

"They take a look at our transportation policies, procedures, method of operation, and ultimately they kind of generate a formal written report of the good and any things that might need tweaked," Mr. Robinson said.

The audit is to be performed May 26 and the school will make the results available to the public, he said.

In a news release, school officials said Mr. Robinson and Wauseon's transportation supervisor Pam Waugh also would be meeting with Wauseon police Chief Keith Torbet to review the incident and that they were working with the bus drivers' union and Fulton County Health Center on a plan to conduct random drug and alcohol tests on bus drivers more frequently.

-- Jennifer Feehan



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