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Local News in Brief : Santa Clarita School Bus Firm Faces Inquiry

The California Highway Patrol and the state Department of Education have launched an investigation into allegations that bus drivers for two Santa Clarita Valley school districts have been trained improperly, officials said Friday.

On Monday, representatives from the two state agencies will begin interviewing former employees of Laidlaw Transit, a private bus company that provides service to the William S. Hart Union High School District and the Newhall Elementary School District, CHP Officer Ralph Elvira said.

Three former Laidlaw employees have alleged that driving instructors falsified records of beginning bus drivers to show that the trainees spent more time behind the wheel than they actually had, said James Bown, director of support services for Hart. State law requires that trainees spend at least 20 hours driving a bus before applying for their license, he said.

William Johnson, a Laidlaw vice president, said that his company gave training records to state investigators Friday. He said the firm had already begun investigating its own training practices after a large number of beginning drivers recently failed state driving tests.

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