AG Grewal: East Orange school bus company didn't vet drivers, do drug testing

New Jersey's attorney general has charged a school bus company with operating unsafe buses, using unqualified drivers and failing to conduct criminal background checks.
The charges released Thursday were filed against F&A Transportation of East Orange and owners Ahmed Mahgoub and his wife, Faiza Ibrahim. They are charged with crimes including conspiracy, theft and tampering with public records.
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said that the owners allegedly knowingly hired drivers who did not hold valid commercial driver’s licenses or required license endorsements, and also hired drivers who had criminal histories or were using illegal drugs. They also allegedly falsified vehicle inspection forms to state that their buses consistently passed required pre- and post-trip company inspections.
Grewal said that on one occasion a driver allegedly used heroin in F&A’s parking lot in East Orange before boarding a school bus to transport 12 special-needs children in Newark. The attorney general said that while driving with the children on board, the employee allegedly overdosed and crashed the school bus into the wall of a building. Police who arrived on the scene used Narcan to revive the employee, according to Grewal.
“No parent should have to worry about the condition of their child’s school bus or question whether their child’s bus driver might be a felon or someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol. No child should ever be put in danger that way. We’ll continue to take strong action to investigate and prosecute any bus company operators who flout the laws and requirements put in place to protect our children,” Grewal said in a statement.
The company had contracts worth more than $3 million with public school districts in Essex, Passaic, Morris and Union counties during the time of the alleged crimes, according to authorities.
The office of Public Integrity also played a large role in this case. Director Thomas Eicher director said in a statement, "We charge that they systematically falsified records to hide their egregious conduct. We have exposed them and will work to ensure that they never again put young students at risk."
No one from F&A would speak to News 12 New Jersey about the situation.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.