Audit: THP failed to inspect all school buses - WKRN News 2

Audit: THP failed to inspect all school buses

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

A state audit has found the Tennessee Highway Patrol failed to inspect all school buses and child care vehicles once a year as required by state law.

Tennessee law requires the inspections to insure all school-aged children and children riding in vehicles registered to licensed child care providers are safe.  It is illegal for a school system to operate a bus that the THP has not inspected.

The Division of State Audit performed an audit of Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

The Department of Safety's audit ranged from June 2010 to April 2013.

It found that the THP, not having a reliable school bus and child care vehicle inspection process, failed to conduct all annual inspections as required.

In fact, 35 percent of school bus inspections were conducted one to 345 days after the one year inspection deadline had passed.

The audit concluded that put the safety of school aged children at risk.  Auditors found part of the break down in the inspection process came from incorrect bus information self reported to the Tennessee Department of Education and then passed on to the THP.

In one example, the Tennessee Department of Public Safety had 81 fewer buses to inspect than the number of bus VIN numbers the Department of Education had for Davidson County.

THP Lt. Ray Robinson is head of the Pupil Transportation Division. His division is in charge of inspecting school buses and child-care vehicles.

"Anytime we see a report that would say a vehicle transporting our children is not being inspected as laws would require is very alarming to us," he said. "We knew what was going on in some cases."

Lt. Robinson said information from the Department of Education provided to the auditors may have included buses listed for inspection that would not have been inspected because they were out of service, crashed or beyond acceptable years of service.

"It shows up as a bus that has not been inspected," he said. "We are working on a solution to this problem we have been for a few months."

Lt. Robinson said the department is developing a fleet maintenance system that will be accessible by THP and the owner of buses.

The system will track needed maintenance and inspection reports. The system will also notify bus operators when a bus has an approaching inspection date.

"Our new system will actually send a email to that individual inspector saying this school bus was last inspected 11 months ago and it should be inspected within the next 30 days," he said.

Lt. Robinson said all school districts have their own maintenance and inspection procedures that insure busses are safe to transport children.

In Wilson County for example all buses are inspected every three months and every day drivers do a safety checklist.

Any issues with safety equipment and cameras will keep a bus for rolling.

All Wilson County school buses are up to date on THP bus inspections.

In Metro Nashville Public Schools a THP inspector is at the transportation department daily because there are so many buses in the district's fleet.

MNPS reports that all busses are current on bus inspections.

Williamson County Schools told Nashville's News 2 they are in the process of having buses inspected by the State.

THP told News 2 the new inspection tracking system should be in place by March of 2014.

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