NEW ORLEANS — Of 95 people who were driving school buses for New Orleans charter schools without a permit by mid-November, only 19 of them have managed to get a permit since, the city said Friday.
The city also said that five drivers named by charter schools as driving students last semester had been rejected for permits based on failed drug screenings or a disqualifying criminal conviction. One of those was Chad Rodney, who had a 2019 cocaine conviction but was allowed to drive a Hammond's Transportation bus that flipped on the Interstate 10 High Rise bridge in December, sending 15 James Singleton Charter School students to the hospital, including one who was in critical condition before recovering.
By state law, people cannot drive a school bus if they have a violent criminal conviction or certain major drug offenses in the last five years or a conviction at any time for a crime against children.
According to the city’s new data, only 28 of the 95 unpermitted drivers identified by WWL-TV had even applied for the city permits, which were implemented in February 2019 and required for the first time for the start of this school year in August 2019.
In addition to the 19 who received their permits and the five who were rejected, the city said three filed applications but were missing required documents and one has a hearing scheduled for Feb. 11.
WWL-TV identified the 95 unpermitted drivers using permit records from the city and bus driver lists from 36 charter school management organizations that run 68 New Orleans public schools.
The last data available from the city came from Nov. 12, three months into the school year.
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Updated data were not available Thursday from the city’s Safety and Permits Department, which issues the Certificate of Public Necessity and Convenience, or CPNC, permits for school buses and drivers. But the city released the updated permit list Friday in response to WWL-TV’s request.