Category Archives: School.Bus

Former transportation director gets prison time for bus contracts fraud

Source: School Bus Fleet, May 12, 2015

A former director of transportation was recently sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for receiving at least $566,000 in kickbacks in a nearly decade-long bus contracts scheme. Alice Sherrod was the director of transportation for North Chicago Community Unit School District 187 from 2001 to 2010. She pleaded guilty to one count each of wire fraud and filing a false federal income tax return. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the northern district of Illinois, Sherrod received the kickbacks from three co-defendants who controlled several different transportation companies that received more than $21 million in student bus contracts. …. From the late 1990s until mid-2003, North Chicago Community Unit School District 187 contracted with various companies for student transportation, including T&M Transportation, which was owned in part and controlled by Boddie, and Eubanks Transportation, which was owned in part and controlled by Eubanks. In 2001, Harper and Sherrod met with Boddie and allegedly agreed to arrange for the school district to increase the number of students that T&M transported in exchange for kickback payments. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in May 2003 Harper suggested to Boddie and Eubanks that they join together to form one company, Safety First Transportation Inc., which won School District 187’s transportation contract in 2003. Harper, Sherrod, Boddie and Eubanks allegedly agreed that they would split the profits from the contract. After an IRS audit of Safety First in 2006-07, White, who authorities said had been acting as the “bagman” for the kickbacks, allegedly began receiving funds from Safety First as both an employee and a contractor, even though he provided little service other than being the bagman. In April 2008, the defendants allegedly agreed to set up a new company, Quality Trans LLC, to replace Safety First and to assume its contracts with the school district. Prosecutors said that all five agreed to continue splitting profits from Quality Trans, and Boddie, Eubanks and White continued making cash payments to Harper and Sherrod. ….

USD 501 says private buses don’t pose concern for public information

Source: Celia Llopis-Jepsen, Topeka Capital-Journal, May 10, 2015

The Topeka Unified School District 501 administration says outsourcing bus services to a private company doesn’t pose problems in terms of the district’s ability to communicate with the public about bus-related matters. …. Earlier this week, Durham said it doesn’t publicly disclose the routes of drivers. …. On Sunday, police arrested Kelly Shane Hooper, who was wanted in Texas on child pornography charges. In response to media questions on Monday and Tuesday, Durham confirmed Tuesday afternoon that Hooper was driving school buses for USD 501 and had been hired in mid-April. Warrants for Hooper weren’t issued until this month. ….

First Student retains contracts, adds propane buses

Source: School Bus Fleet, April 30, 2015

First Student will continue longtime relationships with school districts in Pennsylvania and Missouri through new contracts, and will replace one district’s fleet with alternative-fueled buses. The Council Rock School District in Newtown, Pennsylvania, recently approved a new contract with First Student to provide transportation services for the next seven years with new propane autogas-powered buses, beginning with the 2015-16 school year. …. Meanwhile, two school districts in Missouri have partnered with First Student to provide student transportation for more than 30 years, and that partnership will continue for the 2015-16 school year and beyond. Both Park Hill School District in Kansas City and Sedalia School District 200 in Sedalia have awarded new five-year contracts to the company. ….

Bound Brook police crack down on unlicensed ‘school bus’ businesses

Source: Dave Hutchinson, NJ.com, April 21, 2015

Borough police conducted stops on vehicles dropping off students at the Lamonte Annex Elementary School Tuesday morning and issued nine summons for drivers allegedly not licensed to operate their passenger vehicles as a school bus, Police Chief Michael Jannone said Tuesday afternoon. At 7 a.m., responding to anonymous complaints that drivers were piling kids into their vehicles and illegally driving them to school as a business venture, borough police and officials from the New Jersey Bus Inspection Unit for the Division of Motor Vehicles set up the check point in front of the school, said Sgt. Robert Lavin, who coordinated the vehicle stops. Authorities discovered that students were in fact being packed into passenger vehicles that didn’t meet safety requirements and some drivers were unlicensed to operate their vehicles in a commercial capacity as a school bus, Lavin said. …

Northwest will keep local busing

Source: Jennie Key, communitypress.com, February 11, 2015

The Northwest Local School District has decided to keep its own drivers behind the wheel of its buses after looking over proposals from private transportation companies. In November, board of education members said they wanted transportation proposals from independent agents to see if the district could save money by contracting with private companies, rather than hiring its own drivers and maintaining its own bus fleet….. Key in that decision, he said was that none of the companies that submitted proposals included plans that allowed the district to keep ownership of the bus fleet. The district was interested in retaining ownership of the buses so if contracting became too expensive over time, Northwest would have the option of returning to providing its own drivers. Once the fleet was gone, the district would be hard pressed to buy enough buses to reactivate local transportation services. …

Bus driver ‘removed’ after alcohol selfie surfaces

Source: Lisa Hutson, FOX19, February 10, 2015

A shocking selfie has a ‘First Student’ bus driver in serious trouble. A “selfie” of the driver sitting in the driver’s seat of her bus shows her with a bottle of alcohol to her mouth. The photo first appeared on social media sparking outrage. … It turns out the driver works for First Student, the largest school transportation company in the country. The company runs routes in the Princeton School District. When asked for their comment on the picture, they had no idea it existed. While they declined to go on camera, they did release a statement….

Madison Schools to keep busing privatized

Source: Simon Husted, News-Herald, February 10, 2015

Madison School District officials will continue privatized bus service for another five years despite a push from union leaders to restore the service and employees in-house. …. The Ohio Association of Public School Employees was one of three groups that submitted a proposal last year to the district’s Request for Qualifications and Proposals. Its proposal, which included rehiring 31 unionized bus drivers, four assistants, a secretary and a supervisor, argued that reversing the school board’s privatized busing strategy could cost the district far less at an annual price-tag of $1,342,822 a year.

Related:
State employee union asks Madison Schools to restore bus union
Source: Simon Husted ∙ The News-Herald ∙ November 19, 2014

More than six years after privatizing its bus department, Madison School District officials are being asked to consider restoring a unionized, in-house bus fleet as leaders shop around for the next contractor. The Ohio Association of Public School Employees was one of five groups that submitted information for the school district’s request for qualifications that ended Oct. 10. …. Rains and Mark Murphy, author of the proposal, told The News-Herald in a joint interview Nov. 17 that other school districts have restored in-house bus services in the past. ….. In the Columbus City School Board gave up its private contract with First Student to grow its own unionized fleet. The district still had an in-house fleet at the time covering most of its routes. Murphy, who is a fiscal policy analyst for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and Rains said the Madison School District can viably reverse privatization more so than other districts because it still owns the buses and does their maintenance with in-house mechanics.

Madison School District hires private firm to bus students
Source: Jennifer González, Plain Dealer (OH), Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Madison School District is handing over responsibility for busing students to a private company. The school board voted this week to hire Youngstown-based Community Bus Services to manage the district’s transportation department. The move comes after the district and Ohio Association of Public School Employees Local 238 were unable to agree on a new contract for the roughly 40 bus drivers. The current contract expires June 30.

Federal Legislation Targets School Bus Driver Backgrounds

Source: Ryan Gray, Student Transportation News, January 29, 2015

The Safety for Our Schoolchildren Act introduced earlier this month by Sen. David Vitter would instruct all states and school districts nationwide to obtain FBI background checks on all new applicants including school bus drivers. …. The Act would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and would also cover administrators, teachers, substitute teachers, custodians, cafeteria workers or any employee of a subsidiary or contractor for districts…..

Kansas Bill Aims to Protect Unemployed Private Bus Drivers

Source: Ryan Gray, School Transportation News, January 15, 2015

A being debated in the Kansas Legislature would amend state law to secure unemployment benefits for privately contracted school bus drivers. It would continue to exempt from benefits those bus drivers who are employed directly by the school district. State Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau’s 14-page SB 3 is long and complex. Essentially, it would make private school bus drivers eligible for unemployment pay during summer breaks between school years as long as they do not leave work voluntarily and without good cause. They also cannot be terminated or suspended for misconduct – or a violation of duty – on the job. Drivers would also have to prove they are applying for “suitable work.”…

City bus monitors oppose privatization efforts

Source: WPRI.com, January 12, 2015

More than 100 city employees turned out in force at Monday’s school board meeting to speak out against a proposal that could leave them out of a job if city officials opt to privatize bus monitoring services.

Related:
Providence to consider privatizing school bus monitors
Source: Dan McGowan, WPRI, December 18, 2014

The head of Providence’s municipal employees’ union said Thursday his members would be opposed to any attempt by the city to privatize bus monitor services as part of its new school bus transportation contract. The city’s contract with longtime busing provider First Student, Inc. ends next year and school officials have put the new agreement out to bid. The 46-page request for proposal also seeks to “evaluate the cost associated with contractor employed bus monitors,” but does not guarantee that the city will hire private monitors.