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School bus driver complaints predated injury crash

None of the occupants of a school bus was seriously hurt when the vehicle skidded on its side across a Kane County cornfield. Sheriff's deputies and officials from Illinois Central School Bus are focused on the cause of the crash, including charges of driver negligence.

The school bus accident occurred on a Friday as the unidentified driver was transporting nine students to Naperville's Mansion High School and Krejci Academy. All of the students on board were children with special needs, ranging from autism to emotional difficulties.

Sheriff's department investigators believe the use of student seat belts prevented the accident from causing additional or more severe injuries. A toxicology test was performed as part of standard police procedure for commercially-licensed school bus drivers involved in accidents.

The regional safety director of the bus company announced that the driver was pulled from duty after the crash. The length of the suspension depends upon what investigators find.

The bus company recorded one complaint last fall that charged the bus operator with falling asleep while driving. Illinois Central School Bus officials then placed a camera inside the bus for several days to monitor the veteran driver's actions. No wrongdoing was found.

The school district discovered through after-accident interviews that families of the students involved in the crash questioned the bus driver's abilities. One parent apparently filed an earlier "unsafe" driving complaint with the bus company, but not the district, about the driver under investigation.

The schools' operator, Little Friends Inc., also reported a student complaint about the same bus driver. The grievance was directed to the school district, which contracted the bus company.

Source: chicagotribune.com, "Sleeping accusations surface in school bus wreck," Clifford Ward, Feb. 3, 2012

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