The Lafayette Parish School System has a list of at least 11 applicants interested in available substitute bus driver positions, but applicants who didn’t finish high school must be willing to work toward obtaining their high school equivalency diploma to land the job.

Earlier this month, the School Board approved the transportation department’s request to relax the educational requirement of a high school education for substitute drivers under the condition that the employee enroll in the district’s adult education program.

The policy change applies to both substitute and permanent drivers until the system hires an adequate number of drivers. Earlier this month, transportation staff told the board that it had only three substitute drivers available to fill in behind the wheel of more than 280 buses.

The transportation department hasn’t hired any of the interested applicants yet because it’s still working with the district’s human resources and adult education departments on the regulations for the conditional employment program, said the district’s Transportation Director Damon Evans.

“By having these candidates, we are able to possibly educate a certain portion of our community and broaden our pool of substitute drivers to better help our children by providing them with the safety and service that they deserve,” Evans said.

Transportation officials appealed to the board to consider relaxing the educational requirement to help rebuild a corps of substitute drivers that was depleted to fill vacancies following the resignations and retirements of drivers at the end of the last school year. The district hires permanent drivers from its existing substitute driver pool and it’s been difficult to recruit replacements, transportation officials have said.

Evans said five new substitute drivers who were recently hired are the last round of employees who met the high school educational requirement. A few more hired met the education requirement, but lacked the necessary commercial driver’s license and are in the process of obtaining it, he said.

Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.