SCS suspends charter bus services

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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. -- Shelby County Schools has suspended all charter bus services, pending a safety background check.

The announcement comes just days after a charter bus carrying the Central High School basketball team caught fire.

The bus was operating without a permit or federal safety rating. The owner told WREG he was unaware permits were needed to operate, and that no one has ever inspected his buses.

The school district still cannot say how the bus started carrying kids in the first place.

"We do appreciate when you guys bringing this to our attention," Reginald Porter, chief of staff for the Shelby County School District, said.

He said his office doesn't know how Jefferson Tours and Travel, Inc., was allowed to transport Central High School athletes.

"We're reviewing all of our transportation vendors, specifically requiring use to submit to them new safety records," Porter said.

WREG spent the past 24 hours asking SCS how this bus company was allowed to carry students in the first place.

To that question Porter replied, "That I really can't speak to."

Problems with Durham School Services forced the district to re-evaluate how it hires private bus companies. The district now says it's reevaluating how it does business.

"We're reviewing all of our processes across the district," Porter said.

The district is working to make sure students are safe, whether it's getting to school on Durham school buses or to a ballgame via other private bus companies.

The cause of the charter bus fire has not been determined.

According to records from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the fire on I-55 is the first safety problem for Jefferson Travel and Tours, Inc.. in the past two years. Safety records do not date back before that.

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