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Bus driver accused of abandoning SCS students had red flag in record

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Durham school bus driver facing heat for dropping students off in the wrong neighborhood was hired despite a red flag in his background check.

Last year the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation told the Shelby County Schools board there was reason the driver might not be a good fit, based on his record.

The driver was charged with driving without a license and failure to dim high beams in 2014. A citation says he only had an ID and told officers he runs his high beams because he can't see at night with low beams on.

Durham School Services listed him as a school bus monitor at the time.

But he was hired anyway as a bus driver in 2017, and then put on leave last month after being accused of intentionally dropping a group of kids off in the wrong neighborhood.

Some students said he was a substitute driver that day and became frustrated when he got lost.

"He told us to get out and don't tell nobody nothing. He said don't tell anybody or he would do something," student Ariana Wright said.

They were left more than four miles away from their actual stop.

"We didn't want to get off there, but we needed to," student Alayla Wright said.

TBI code says anyone working with school children agrees to release their records at least every five years.

Even though he didn't get convicted of the charges, the TBI highlighted them last year.

"It's up to the school to review the exact nature of the charges with the individual and then determine whether he can or can't be hired," a TBI spokesman said.

This isn't the first time SCS has looked past previous charges.

Earlier this year TBI told the district a man named Tavius Woods had a criminal history before he was fired. Woods was accused of trying to kidnap a girl from Germanshire Elementary twice.

SCS didn't respond to our multiple requests for an interview on Tuesday.

They've told us in the past if employees are found not guilty of the crime, or if charges have been dropped, they believe they should have the same opportunities as any other innocent person.

But some parents feel there should be a higher standard when it comes to working with children.

Durham School Services says their pre-employment screening also includes multiple background checks and screenings. The company said the state and FBI criminal background/fingerprint check are conducted by a third party and the results are given to Shelby County Schools.

We're waiting to get more information about this specific employee's history.

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