State safety officials: 66 Durham bus drivers not properly tested

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Dozens of Durham School Services bus drivers were not properly tested, according to the state.

Safety officials said 66 Shelby County school bus drivers with Durham School Services took tests at Private First Class Driving Academy in Southeast Memphis, and that academy didn’t meet its standards.

State officials said a recent routine audit showed a trainer there didn’t have certain credentials to administer tests, so the trainer and the academy’s licenses are now suspended.

The 66 drivers will have to take the test over.

The affected drivers can retake the test at no cost to them, and the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security brought on extra staff to make sure this causes as little disruption to their jobs as possible.

A spokesperson with Durham told WREG they found out about the audit last week. She stressed they had nothing to do with this.

She said the state credited this academy. Not them.

“Whatever happened, that’s Durham or the third party tester’s fault. That’s not on the drivers. We can only do what you ask us to do,” said Erma Wheeler.

Wheeler went to Private First Class in October.

She quit Durham a couple weeks ago to be a school bus driver in Mississippi.

She had no idea her skills test was thrown out until she called to get an old pay stub.

“So you’re telling me if I didn’t call for my check stub, I would have never known I had to go re-skill?” she said.

When we checked, the door was locked at Private First Class on Viscount Avenue.

Staff has yet to answer our calls and emails either.

The academy only started working with the state and bus driver’s licenses in February, and this is the first time it was audited.

Wheeler said the skills test she took there was important.

It touched on things like engine parts and warning sings of equipment failure.

She also wants answers.

“People should not have to wonder what they are going to do next and not enjoy Christmas with their children, because of these shenanigans. It shouldn’t be that way,” said Wheeler.

It’s unclear how long the testing will take. The testing started December 17.

Durham assured us routes will not be affected when kids go back to school. They said children’s safety is a priority.

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