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Kansas City area school superintendent talks bus safety following deadly Tennessee crash

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OSAWATOMIE, Kan. -- "Oh my God, when I first heard about it I mean my heart just sank. My heart goes out to those families, the school officials, students and the community," said Gary French, the Superintendent for the Osawatomie School District, while discussing a deadly bus crash in Tennessee.

French tells FOX 4's Robert Townsend that every month the district's 12 bus drivers are responsible for getting more than half of the district's 1,100 elementary, middle and high school students to and from school.

Five years ago, the school district decided to stop contracting out driver and hired their own.

"We think that's really worked for us, having our drivers as our employees," said French.

Superintendent French says by law, prospective drivers must undergo pre-employment background checks and more.

"After they're hired, we also want anyone who wants to drive our school buses to be prepared for random drug and alcohol testing. The drivers must also attend monthly safety meetings so we can discuss a variety of issues such as that horrible crash in Tennessee. Next month we will be talking about it and how to prevent it from happening in Osawatomie," added French.

"Our number one priority is the safety of the kids, the students we transport and we must have qualified drivers for their safety, " says Wayne Ova, who's been an Osawatomie school bus driver for more than 20 year.

"We do all of this in the name of safety for our students," said Superintendent French.