Juhu molestation case fallout: State plans to expand scope of school bus policy

Following the case of a four-year-old girl being molested by a school bus attendant, the state government is looking to expand the scope of its school bus policy. It plans to include verification of antecedents of employees or staff and wants to ensure that schools observe "due diligence" while hiring or giving out contracts for school buses.

On Friday, Ramesh Rajput, the cleaner of a Juhu school bus, allegedly molested the nursery student. She was the last child on the bus to be dropped home and the woman attendant on the bus "reprimanded" the accused when she caught him.

Senior government officials said measures such as checking the antecedents of the staff on the bus, whether employed directly by the school or on contract, will be inducted into the policy. It is yet to be decided whether the school or home department will conduct such checks. Names, contact numbers, qualifications, previous work and general verification of the staff could be done.

"We are taking another look at the policy. We plan to expand its scope to ensure due diligence by schools and managements. Issues such as child safety have to be addressed. One way would be to have the antecedents of staff checked," said J S Saharia, school education secretary.

Officials said they could provide schools with an illustrative list on the checks to be carried out while hiring staff to ensure "utmost safety of children at all times".

Officials said the attempt would be similar to the measures taken by the police asking senior citizens living alone to register the helps after proper verification. "It is a measure citizens have to take for their own safety. Similarly, schools could be asked to ensure verification of the bus employees and staff," said an official.

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