Exposing MPS bus drivers with criminal records
MILWAUKEE- It's another explosive I-Team investigation -- months in the making. Convicted criminals driving kids to and from school.
You trust your child's bus driver to keep your kids safe. But the I-Team found out some of their safety could be at risk with who's behind the wheel.
The I-Team even discovered one driver's a convicted prostitute. Investigator Rob Koebel exposes the truth about who's driving your kids.
They're with your kids for hours each week. They're responsible for your child's safety.
So how is this possible?
Rob Koebel: "You are a school bus driver. We did a background check on you and we found you were arrested for prostitution."
School bus driver Melissa Dumas: "Are you kidding me?"
Nope. No joke.
The I-Team caught a convicted prostitute driving bus 1081.
Rob Koebel: "Are you happy as a father about this?"
Jonathan Roberson: "No sir"
54 thousand MPS students ride a school bus each day.
The school district hires 10 bus companies and pays those companies a total of $56 million taxpayer dollars -- your dollars to do the job.
"What are you following me for?" asked Melissa Dumas. "We're doing this because it seems no one else is really keeping track," retorted Rob Koebel.
When the I-Team first requested a list of all MPS school bus drivers, the district denied the request -- even though the law was on your side.
"You should have gotten the names just as a policy matter because there is such a strong public interest in the safety of school children," noted lawyer Christa Westerberg.
For six months the I-Team pressed for the names of tax paid bus drivers.
Finally -- the district turned over the names of more than a thousand bus drivers and the I-Team got to work.
The I-Team looked into the background of each driver. The I-Team searched public records, police reports and with no other information, the I-Team used mug shots to confirm the identity of convicted criminals, turned bus drivers.
School bus driver Melissa Dumas: "What is that?!!"
Rob Koebel: "That's the mugshot when you were arrested for prostitution."
School bus driver Melissa Dumas: "What?"
It's true. Melissa Dumas in 2005 -- convicted for prostitution.
Rob Koebel: "One of the school bus drivers I think you are aware of -- she had a conviction for prostitution."
Durham Manager: "We have no knowledge of that it wasn't our company."
Rob Koebel: "Yes it was."
Durham Manager: "No it was not".
A Milwaukee police report says she promised a good time for $120. She met up with an undercover cop at a hotel with baby oil and sex toys.
Rob Koebel: "Do you think you should be driving children with a conviction for prostitution?"
School bus driver Melissa Dumas: "Oh, my god?! I can't believe this (bleep)"
Neither could the I-Team. So the I-Team kept digging and found a 2001 mug shot and a Fox Point police report. Dumas was arrested and cited for drugs and driving on a suspended license and that's not all. She was in a school bus accident back in 2009 when she worked for a different bus company. No kids were on board, but she was cited for inattentive driving.
Rob Koebel: "What's going through your mind now?"
Jonathan Roberson: "The bus company.they must not do extensive background checks on the people they hire. It don't make no sense its ridiculous."
The I-Team wants to find out how someone like this can get a job driving our kids.
Mike Turza, MPS Director of Business Services: "We have to figure out why things slip through."
Rob: "Do you know who is driving these children?"
The I-Team also identified Andrew Williams, another M-P-S bus driver also busted. Back in December, Williams was caught driving his car the wrong way down Layton Blvd.
A police report says cops found a gun in his pocket and an empty bottle of hydrocondone pills.
He was only cited for carrying a concealed weapon.
Rob Koebel: "Does MPS ever randomly take that list and check?"
Mike Truza: "No - we have not done…"
Rob Koebel: "You are kidding me?"
Mike Truza: "We have not done that."
Next on the list is bus driver Cornell Roberts. He was busted for theft and speeding in 2005. Then, he was in trouble repeatedly for driving without registration, and just this past August, he was busted for driving when his license was suspended.
"I went to the DMV and got it straightened out. I'm back to work," said Roberts.
His bus company says it's OK because back then he wasn't working for them. Parents beg to differ and so does the I-Team.
Rob Koebel: "Will the district start randomly checking backgrounds?"
Mike Turza : "We could do that…"
Rob Koebel:: "Will you do that now?"
Mike Turza: "We could do that."
Rob Koebel: "But you aren't going to commit to that now?"
Mike Turza: "Again we would commit if there was value to it…"
Rob Koebel:: "Ok, the value would be the safety of the children and to hold the bus company accountable doesn't seem anyone is doing that."
Mike Turza: "I don't think that is a fair statement at all."
The I-Team presented all of the findings to MPS and the bus companies. Since then, Durham Bus Company says the convicted prostitute does not work for them anymore.
The wrong-way driver carrying a gun has been suspended, pending an investigation.
But there could be many convicted criminals still driving buses.
And that's information you, as parents, and as tax payers have the right to know.