Private Bus Company in Rhode Island Follows Through with Vow for Better Background Checks

By Michael Klazema on 11/19/2013

When a bus monitor employed by Ocean State Transit—a private Rhode Island bus company that handles school busing for the state’s East Greenwich public school district—was arrested on child pornography charges, the company’s name was dragged into the public limelight. One parent, a State Representative, even vowed to pursue legislation that would require all school bus drivers and bus monitors throughout the country to undergo nationwide background checks.

For Ocean State Transit, which had only run state background checks of its employees prior to the incident, the arrest of the bus monitor was a public relations nightmare. The company had followed the letter of state law, which at this time only requires private transportation companies to run state background checks. However, the shock of having a child pornography charge thrown at a company employee still hit close to home for the higher-ups at Ocean State Transit. The company responded to the arrest by promising to revamp its background check policies in the future.

According to a local report from the East Greenwich Press, Ocean State Transit was quick in changing its policy. Sanford’s arrest took place on October 31, and by November 14, the bus company had completed full nationwide background checks on every one of its employees.

The verdict? All clear, Ocean State Transit’s Tony Murgo told the East Greenwich Press. In addition, instead of relying on a one-time statewide criminal check in the future, Ocean State Transit is instituting a policy that will require each of its employees to undergo state and nationwide background checks on a yearly basis from here on out.

If the nationwide check that Ocean State Transit is using is anything like the one available through, then it includes a check of both criminal records and offender registries from all 50 states. The East Greenwich Press also indicated that Ocean State Transit had retroactively looked into Scott Sanford’s record at a national level. As it turns out, Sanford had no prior record of criminal sexual conduct or, for that matter, of any criminal activity at all.

Still, while Ocean State Transit could not have predicted the charges that would surface against Sanford, the company is still making a good business move, not only in deciding to require nationwide background checks for new employees in the future, but also in demanding current employees to undergo intermittent checks that will determine whether or not their records have remained clean.


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  • December 04 Chicago Public Schools has dismissed hundreds of employees, coaches, vendors, and volunteers based on background check findings. The district recently vowed to re-check the majority of its 68,000 employees after a Chicago Tribune investigation revealed holes in its background check policies.
  • November 29 Striving to create a safer environment more conducive to productive training and leadership development, the Army has recently moved to adopt a uniform policy of background checks for certain roles. 
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