New Jersey State Police and prosecutors executed search warrants at a school bus company’s business offices Friday morning as part of an ongoing investigation into school bus safety.
The preliminary investigation revealed that numerous A-1 Elegant drivers were allegedly operating school buses without the proper credentials, according to Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens, II.
A-1 Elegant is contracted to transport children to school in Newark as well as other parts of the state, according to Stephens.
Inspections were conducted at five locations in Newark, Stephens said, adding that eight bus drivers, more than half of those detained, did not have proper credentials to drive school children. Additionally, two bus drivers and a bus aid had open warrants and were taken into custody, Stephens said.
Search warrants were also executed at the business offices of A-1 Elegant in Paterson.
Buses were intercepted after children were dropped off to minimize the disruption of the school day, according to prosecutors, and in some instances alternative transportation had to be provided to the children at the end of the day.
Video captured by sister station Telemundo 47 showed a heavy police presence at the A-1 Elegant’s Paterson location.
In an interview with Telemundo 47, a woman who lives near the bus yard says the drivers are sketchy and park along her street, taking up parking spots.
Meanwhile, a community activist says that a driver came forward to report things that were being done wrong in the company, according to Telemundo 47.
A-1 Elegant did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Northjersey.com identifies the owner of A-1 Elegant as Shelim Khalique, brother of Paterson’s 2nd Ward councilman Shahin Khalique. NBC 4 New York could not independently verify this information and Shahin's office did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.
A-1 Elegant has found itself in controversy for its work for the Paterson school district, which issued more than 100 violations against the company during the 2017-18 school year, including problems with the credentials of its drivers, Northjersey.com reports.
In a statement, Paul Brubaker, spokesman for Paterson Public Schools, told Telemundo 47: "We have no comment as this matter is under investigation by law enforcement authorities."
The investigation, which is a joint effort of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, the New Jersey State Police, the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission, and the Newark Police Department, is active and ongoing, prosecutors say.