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Parents Seek Answers Over Bus Monitor’s Arrest on Child Porn Charges

Monday's information meeting about a bus monitor accused of possessing child porn turned heated at times as parents searched for answers.

Several dozen concerned parents came into Monday night’s informational meeting about the arrest of a school bus monitor, armed with questions about how the 35-year-old man – charged with possession of child pornography – came to work in the district.

Parents were stunned to learn last week that Scott Sanford, a beloved bus monitor known for handing out candy and dog treats, had been one of 11 people arrested on child porn possession charges by the Rhode Island State Police in a sweep.

“The kids called him Mr. Smiley,” said Janet Giarusso, who has a child at Eldredge Elementary School. Giarusso and other parents also pointed out that Sanford lived in the same neighborhood as many families on his bus route.

Sanford has since been terminated by Ocean State Transit, the company that handles the East Greenwich School Department’s transportation. Sanford is being monitored by law enforcement and has been prohibited from using the Internet and coming into contact with anyone under 18.

“I’m appalled,” said Tony Murgo, president of Ocean State Transit. “I’m as angry as everyone in this room.”

Sanford had cleared the company’s Rhode Island background check upon hiring, according to the company’s officials. At Monday’s meeting, parents called for a stricter background check for school bus drivers and monitors. Murgo told parents he would begin nationwide background checks on all of its employees in the East Greenwich school district starting Tuesday. He also said the company would look to hire a third party to conduct stricter background checks in the future.

A representative for the State Police warned parents that even the most thorough background check may not be enough to weed out the bad eggs. The representative said that, based on her experience, the vast majority of those charged with child pornography possession have never had any contact with law enforcement and, therefore, no record of malfeasance. Sanford did not have a record in any state, said Murgo.

Sanford’s wife and mother-in-law, a bus driver and bus monitor, respectively, in East Greenwich, have been suspended by the company, pending investigation. What troubled parents more, however, was the suspension of the bus driver paired with Sanford on Bus 2. According to Murgo, the driver’s suspension came hours before Sanford’s arrest and was “completely unrelated.” Company and school officials would not comment on the nature of the driver’s firing or any additional information.

“It’s too coincidental that they were on the same bus,” said one parent.

Though most parents voiced their frustration and anger over the issue during the informational meeting, many took the time to provide suggestions to help the school district and Ocean State Transit avoid similar situations in the future. One parent suggested the creation and circulation code of conduct/behavior for bus drivers and monitors to help educate parents and students on what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t.

“I think it’s awesome that a bus monitor takes interest in our kids, but apparently it’s not awesome,” said another parent. 

Jen E November 05, 2013 at 04:40 AM
Unfortunately, this situation is a result of a failure on three counts. Ocean State Transit must be held accountable for the promulgation of policies and procedures that allowed this situation to occur. The East Greenwich School District has to have greater oversight of the bus company and must take responsibility for communication with the parents. And finally, as a parent, which I am, we as a community need to make sure we do not ignore the warnings as we are held with the ultimate accountability for protecting our children. Please let this be an eye opener not only for Ocean State Transit, the East Greenwich School District and the families in East Greenwich but to all those state-wide whose children's safety is our responsibility to remain ever vigilant.
Lisa November 05, 2013 at 06:38 AM
If this is not a wake up call for parents in our community, I don't know what is. Have you asked your child if they have friends who are adults ? Are you ok with that? Have you checked the phone to see who they text? Who are their friends on Instagram ? Who go they snapchat with? Do you talk with your child about Internet safety ? Safety at all?? Have you talked with parents where your children frequent or just drop them off? Child predators groom their victims..... Most of the time they are not the strangers but rather someone who has access to the child....... As parents, vigilance is crucial!!!!!! Talk with your kids! Please. Last night people were making comments about shared pictures etc.....shouldn't that have been addressed by the parents before? Safety begins with us parents to ensure that kids know what is or if not appropriate and acceptable. If you are not sure how to talk with the kids reach out and find out how..when in doubt about a relationship your child has with an adult and it doesn't seem right.... don't wait until something happens to talk ...

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