State inspectors place more school buses out of service at KC Premier over safety concerns

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- In a FOX4 follow-up report, the Missouri State Highway Patrol returned to KC Premier Transportation on Monday and checked out its school buses with a fine-tooth comb.

Six inspectors looked at more than a dozen of the Kansas City company's buses for hours to make sure that they are safe to transport charter school students.

A steady line of drivers pulled up in their school buses to have emergency lights, brakes, doors, practically all parts checked out by inspectors.

"They'll be checking for emergency exits, hatchets, doors and more," said Cpl. Nate Bradley with the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Bradley said the good news is that most of KC Premier's 13 buses taken out of service last month due to safety violations have since been repaired.

"Those I believe have been placed back into service," Bradley said.

As for the second round of state inspections of the company's school buses?

"They inspectors will definitely be busy. This will take some time because they're gonna be checking for all  kinds of things including exhaust leaks underneath a bus," Bradley said.

He said six of 11 more school buses at KC Premier were quickly slapped with orange stickers and placed out of service due to serious safety defects.

Defects ranged from exhaust leaks to bad brakes.

Inspectors shared cell phone photos and a video of the buses they call "unsafe."

"On one bus, it's left rear apparatus and the shoes have not been in contact with that drum for a long time. It's frustrating for us when we see the kinds of equipment violations that could cause a serious catastrophe for our most precious cargo -- our children," Bradley said.

Bradley said on Monday KC Premier presented 18 of its 22 buses to inspectors to be checked out. He says initially eight were placed out of service.

"In the hours that we were there, they repaired some of those," he said.

He said KC Premier's mechanics corrected the problems on five buses, so three were placed out of service by the end of the day.

Still, a KC Premier employee is making some alarming accusations.

The woman asked FOX4 to conceal her identity to protect her.

"The buses are not being properly inspected," the employee said.

She told FOX4 ever since KC Premier took over the transportation company two years ago, its safety supervisor allegedly paid a man money to provide the company with inspection slips even though legal inspections never happened.

"One transaction was $325. I don't know how many buses that covered. I don't think the buses would actually pass. I am for the safety of the children and the drivers," the employee said.

The state is also now looking into that.

FOX4's Robert Townsend tried to talk to  KC Premier's owner, Ejaz Mahmood, about the woman's claims and the school bus inspections.

Mahmood didn't want to go on camera.

He did say he was "unaware of the employee's allegations."

Mahmood also said "he is concerned about student safety and that he would repair the three buses."

Meanwhile, Bradley told FOX4 he's now talking to Jackson County prosecutors and the Attorney General's Office about this case.

FOX4 also reached out to Kansas City International Academy for reaction to the state inspections conducted at KC Premier. It's just one of four charter schools in the Kansas City area that uses KC Premier to transport its students to school every day.

"We've never had really major concerns or really any concerns about safety. We've had some buses break down. They'd come out and service them in front of our building, or they've called us and said a bus is broken down," said Dr. David Leone, the assistant superintendent at the school. "Our biggest issue is they don't always run on time picking up our elementary students."

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