BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — Battle Creek Public School leaders say they had no clue that the driver’s license for one of their bus drivers was suspended last autumn.
The problem came to light Monday after Kevin Frederick, 46, was involved in a minor crash while driving the empty school bus in the Burger King parking lot on North Avenue in Battle Creek. When police arrived on scene, they realized Frederick was driving on a suspended license and arrested him. Frederick was arraigned Tuesday on a count of driving with a suspended license.
“We were completely surprised,” said Karen Hart, an administrator with the Battle Creek Public Schools.
Hart said school leaders thought that they would receive notification when a driver’s license was suspended, but that didn’t happen in this case. She says school human resources staff thought that the Michigan State Police “I-CHAT” service would alert them to issues like this.
“You want instant notification (that) something is up,” Hart said.
The problem, according to State Police, is that’s not what I-CHAT does. That database allows users to search a person’s criminal background, which may or may not include offenses that lead to a license suspension. It does not notify users when a person’s record has changed unless they perform another search.
The Secretary of State does provide an avenue for users to receive alerts about a person’s license status if requested, but it’s not clear if Battle Creek Public Schools uses that system.
The incident raises questions about whether other drivers on staff for Battle Creek schools may have the same issue.
“That’s one thing that we’re checking into,” Hart said. “This is now an internal investigation. … We always believe that we’re looking at the safety for our students. … Obviously, if we have an issue we will figure out what that is and take care of it.”
Frederick’s most recent suspension went into effect last fall and stemmed from an incident in Jackson in which he was cited for speeding in a construction zone.
According to Secretary of State records, he apparently failed to pay fines and did not show up for re-examinations to maintain his driver’s license.
Frederick was legally allowed to drive when he was hired in January 2012, though his driving record had previous infractions.
Hart confirmed Monday that Frederick was not currently driving for the district but would not comment on whether he would be allowed to return as a driver.
He is expected back in court for a pretrial hearing on April 16.