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Durham explains hiring, background check procedures ahead of school year

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- In five days, Durham School Services buses will start picking up Shelby County Schools students for the new school year.

WREG asked what has been done to make sure safe drivers are behind the wheel.

Hiring has been a safety concern since WREG discovered that a driver caught on board with marijuana last year had a violent criminal history.

A Durham spokesperson confirmed the company finds many applicants at job fairs. Once applicants are identified, they attend an applicant orientation meeting and take a safety assessment exam. Applicants must obtain a Commercial Driver License and receive a Department of Transportation physical exam, which includes a drug test.

During those steps, two background checks are in the works.

"We're going to implement a third-party background check in an earlier phase of the process to make sure that there is a double check in place," Durham CEO David Duke said in November, amid safety concerns.

Durham said it has held true to that promise. The bus company said a business called TalentWise does a background check and sends the results to Durham. It also said the FBI does a background check and sends those results to the school system.

Then, drivers undergo training.

"We put the veteran drivers along with new drivers, so they learn," Durham Regional Manager Kerry Krick said.

Durham said drivers have to complete a minimum of 20 hours of training in the classroom and 30 hours on the road.

Durham said parents with questions about their drivers may contact the company, but it can only give information it is legally able to.

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