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Bus driver solicits sex; students aboard

Bus driver solicits sex; students aboard

DETROIT -- A 30-year-old bus driver transporting Detroit Public Schools special needs students was arrested Wednesday after allegedly pulling his bus alongside an undercover officer, propositioning her for sex from his window, and promising to return after he dropped the children off at school.

"In my 35 years in law enforcement, I've seen a lot of outrageous things, particularly in the area of prostitution," Wayne County Sheriff Warren C. Evans said in a statement. "But the very idea that someone entrusted with the safety and security of special needs children would instead put his own selfish and illicit needs first, blows my mind."

Deputies took custody of the children and drove them to McKenny Elementary School. Their parents were notified.

Police said the incident happened in the area of Telegraph and Grand River around 7 a.m. The driver worked for Detroit-based ABC Student Transportation, one of several DPS transportation subcontractors. He was fired by the company, according to Steve Wasko, spokesman for Detroit Public Schools.

The Detroit man, whose name has not been released pending arraignment, is being held at the Wayne County Jail.

The driver first propositioned the officer from inside the vehicle at around 7 a.m. when he had one child on the bus, according to Robert J. Dickerson, of theWayne County Sheriff's Office. He talked to the officer through the driver's side window and said he'd return after he picked up more children, Dickerson said. Deputies were working a prostitution enforcement detail in that area.

The driver returned a few minutes later with three more children on the bus, offered to pay the officer for sex, and gave her a piece of paper with his name and phone number, according to a press release.

The suspect's plan was to drop off the children, ages 5 to 9, at the school on Evergreen near Pembroke, and return to the area "to carry out the act," the statement said.

Evans said his officers are working closely with the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office and may pursue charges of child endangerment, a felony, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, in addition to the misdemeanor citation for offering to engage in prostitution.

Wasko said a criminal background check had been conducted on the bus driver before he was hired in August. That's a requirement whether drivers are DPS employees or subcontractors.

"There are systems in place that are mandated by law and followed by the district, as well as contractors, to ensure that the backgrounds of drivers are thoroughly checked for criminal history," Wasko said. "Clearly, this was not something in the background of this particular employee.

"As outlandish as this incident was, our students were at no time in harm's way."

One local advocacy group said districts statewide should have more staff support on buses with special needs students.

"I'm hearing more and more disturbing stories about what happens on school buses for students with disabilities when there is not enough support on the bus," said Marcie Lipsitt, co-chairwoman Michigan Alliance for Special Education, a volunteer advocacy organization.

Too often, districts don't alert parents that students with special needs can be required to have an aide on a bus if that support is written into a student's Individualized Education Program, a plan that describes the services that must be provided for a student with disabilities, she said.

"If you had more support on the bus, it would ensure students are safe and would alert the district to potential problems with bus drivers," Lipsitt said.

Bus driver solicits sex; students aboard
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