WATERTOWN (CBS) – The school bus driver arrested for driving drunk and kidnapping a blind student did not have the proper license, WBZ-TV has learned.

Michael Tantillo was supposed to take the 15-year-old boy from the Perkins School in Watertown Wednesday to the student’s home in Clinton.

tantillo RMV: Van Driver Accused Of Kidnapping Blind Student Did Not Have Valid License

Michael Tantillo in court October 18.

Instead, police say Tantillo drove around drunk for more than three hours with the teen in his van before finally showing up at his home at 8:30 p.m.

Clinton Police were waiting for Tantillo and arrested him.

He was ordered held on $50,000 bail Thursday after his arraignment on drunk driving, kidnapping and child endangerment charges.

In order to drive the school van, Tantillo was required to have a special Class 7D driver’s license to transport students.

The Registry of Motor Vehicles told WBZ Friday that his application was denied, because of his lengthy criminal background and poor driving record.

WBZ has learned exclusively that this is not the first time Ride Rite has been caught with a driver who shouldn’t have been on the road.

In December, the registry caught the company with another driver who did not have the proper license.

In January, the registry sent them a warning letter, saying, “Any subsequent violations shall be forwarded for a hearing on whether there is just cause for the suspension or revocation of your registrations.”

State records indicate Tantillo has been cited 15 times for driving offenses since 1988.

Tantillo was hired by Ride Rite of Leominster two months ago, despite not having the necessary license.

Though he is currently on probation, Ride Rite said they thought the state was responsible for his background check and relied on Tantillo’s honesty.

The Clinton School District is in charge of getting the student to Perkins.

The superintendent told WBZ he questioned Tantillo about his bad record but was satisfied by his answers.

Clinton schools fired Ride Rite after Tantillo’s arrest and Tantillo was fired by Ride Rite.

Administrators at Perkins said Ride Rite is one of multiple private companies that brings students to the school every day.


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