School program sued on behalf of 3,000 parents and children
This story demonstrates school districts should carefully consider
value verses cost-cutting. School districts failing to insure contractors
properly license and train their drivers, and failing to place the safety
of children on their school buses as the top priority, should set
aside millions to help cover the hidden cost of providing unsafe transportation.
Click picture for Washington DC
Various - First published by the Washington Post, "D.C. Schools to
replace contractor for drivers," Jan. 1999, by Valerie Strauss - All Rights
Reserved. WP's story is available from their archives.
Washington DC-- D.C. school officials told the Washington Post they
plan to replace Horton and Barber Professional Services Inc., the contractor
that provided drivers for the school systemís special-education students.
The decision to replace the contractor comes amid the firings of three
dozen drivers, a result of two investigations of the schoolís
transportation department & one by the D.C inspector generalís office
and one by school system officials.
|CHECK THAT BUS!|
Find out how to safety check a field trip bus before allowing it to depart with kids on board.
FREE School Bus Safety Video
The drivers were recommended for firing in the past month for various
offenses, including lack of bus driver permits and CDLs, testing
positive for drugs and drunk driving convictions.
Three clerks were also fired for hiring or destroying records of several
of the problem drivers.
Superintendent Arlene Ackerman has asked the FBI to conduct background
checks on all of the more than 300 drivers, including 200 which came
from Horton and Barber.
The situation with the problem drivers came to the forefront when
parents raised questions about drivers after a rash of late pickups. In
some cases, the buses didnít show up at all.
The issue was later addressed at a city council meeting during which,
Council Member Kevin P. Chavous said the cityís school bus drivers were
not properly licensed and were hired without sufficient background
Beth Goodman, a lawyer with Feldesman, Tucker, Leifer, Fidell & Bank, is
handling a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the 3,000 parents and
children who are serviced by the district.
Goodman said that children often wait for buses that never arrive or
spend hours on buses to and from school with drivers who donít know the
"We want properly licensed bus drivers and bus routes that are accurate
and driven in a timely manner," Goodman said.
Goodman says the problems in the district stem from a lack of commitment
to providing decent service to students and parents.
Several incidents involving drivers highlight the problems that the
district is facing.
In October, several children were injured after a driver, who had four
convictions in 1993 and 1994 for traffic offenses in Maryland and
Virginia, failed to yield the right of way. That driver, Charles Green,
was driving again the next month and had another accident. This time, 11
special-ed students were injured. Green is no longer driving.
UPDATE: WP, Jan 23, 1999; A 12 year old mentally retarded D.C. special
education student, was left behind when the bus he was about to
board drove off. A man, alleged to be Elmer Dewitt Stich of Southeast
Washington D.C., offered to help the boy get to school but instead,
the youth was taken into the woods and sexually assaulted. Beth Goodman,
the lawyer handling a 1995 class-action lawsuit against the city's special
education program, said it was "the kind of disaster we have been
warning the school system and their counsel about."
Safe Schools Note: Some states require a parent or parent designee assist
the very young (or easily disoriented) at bus stops. In these states drivers
are instructed to report violations and not depart a young child from the
bus when an adult or designee is not present
to receive the child.
FROM AROUND THE WEB:
Top of Page |
Message Board |
Free Postcards |
E-Mail Safe Schools
Copyright ©1999 James Kraemer. Click on this Copyright
Notice to view copy without charge limitations.