For more than 30 minutes Monday night, Rochester Board of Education members listened to representatives of Durham School Services as they detailed the transition from a school-managed to a privately-managed bus system this summer.
Justin Grygiel and Colleen Mayes talked about the drivers that stayed, the new drivers that were hired and the process for training and checking the backgrounds of each and every one of them.
After their presentation was finished, Board Member Pat Piskulich asked a question that many in the community have been expressing in light of the arrest Friday of a bus driver who was allegedly stealing clothes while on a route; police say it was her second arrest.
"So which piece of your background check would you say failed in this case?" Piskulich asked.
On Friday, 53-year-old Roseanne Stacho, a bus driver with 25 years of experience, was arrested at Parisian in Rochester Hills before she was set to pick up students at Stoney Creek High School. Her bus was parked in the store parking lot. Stacho was charged with first-degree retail fraud; police say she was caught trying to steal $543 in clothing from the department store.
(See "Rochester Bus Driver Arrested at Parisian for Theft Had Prior Record for Retail Fraud.")
Mayes explained that while some shopping centers around town are approved places for drivers to park when it doesn't make sense for them to return their bus to the school garage before their next route, the Village of Rochester Hills, where Stacho was arrested, "was not an approved layover location."
Grygiel, the director of business development for the Illinois-based Durham, said Stacho has been put on administrative leave while Durham does its "due diligence" in investigating the alleged crime.
Grygiel said Stacho worked for Durham at Birmingham Schools for the past three years and was one of two drivers from other Durham fleets in southeast Michigan to transfer to Rochester this summer.
According to Grygiel, in hiring a driver Durham checks the driver's driving record and also checks for:
- DUI or DWI charges in the past 10 years.
- More than two moving violations in the past three years.
- More than one accident in the past 36 months.
- Major violations in past three years.
- Convictions of a felony or misdemeanor more than 10 years old that involved violence or direct harm to a person.
- Convictions of other felonies less than 10 years old.
- A pattern of misdemeanors.
Durham asks employees annually for disclosure of crimes or violations and will do spot checks of individuals as warranted.
Stacho had a prior arrest; in February, she was arrested for and eventually pleaded guilty to second-degree retail fraud, according to Captain Michael Johnson of the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.
In response to Piskulich's question about what was missed in Stacho's background check, Grygiel said Durham is still investigating.
"At the time, there was no issue with (Stacho's) background," Grygiel said. "It's not like there was a history there or a tendency to be able to say this person has this history on their record. And again, the charges are alleged."
Grygiel also reiterated that no students were impacted by the arrest.
Board members expressed their disappointment with the situation.
"Given that you are new to our district and this is a very public event, I think it hurts the confidence of our community," Board Member Beth Talbert said.
"What steps would you recommend we take now to help the community feel confident?"
Board member Lisa Nowak suggested that Durham report back on its due diligence in one week. "We need and you need to restore that confidence, and that's going to require some extra effort — we hope you're up for that," Nowak said.
Last spring, Rochester Schools leaders approved the along with custodian and partial ground services, to save the district money. The school district's contract with Durham is for three years and is estimated to save the district $4.7 million.