The city’s school district moved to take away 37 routes from Woodland Park-based U.S. Student Services prompting the company’s attorney to threaten lawsuit. Anthony Van Zwaren, attorney for U.S. Student Services, said on Wednesday morning the company is preparing to take legal actions against the district.
“She was singled out,” said Van Zwaren, speaking of the owner of U.S. Student Services. He said the violations the district alleges his client committed were less “egregious” than those committed by other bus companies.
As of Thursday afternoon, the district has not received any legal papers from the attorney, said school officials.
His client was accused of two separate contract violations. In the first case, the bus company’s aide and driver failed to conduct a child check to ensure all students were out of the bus. This left behind a child. In the second case, a driver for the bus company sideswiped a parked vehicle, but never reported the accident to the district.
Acting superintendent Eileen Shafer in mid-September cited both incidents to cut all ties with the bus company.
There were two other companies that committed busing blunders. A bus belonging to A-1 Elegant Tours failed to drop off a sleeping boy. In yet another incident, a bus from Jersey Kids reportedly dropped off students at School 15 two days without handing them to school staff as required by contract.
Van Zwaren said those two firms were fined and allowed to keep their contracts. All three firms were levied $1,000 penalty each. A-1 Elegant Tours and Jersey Kids each committed a single violation.
The attorney specifically pointed to A-1 Elegant Tours. He said this firm, owned by the brother of councilman Shahin Khalique, received a softer treatment because of ties to school board members. A-1 Elegant Tours committed a single violation. The firm’s owner issued an apology following the incident.
School officials warned U.S. Student Services of the consequences of a second incident. The superintendent publicly said the district would terminate contracts with any firm that was involved in another incident.
A week later, a parent reported a bus belonging to U.S. Student Services was involved in an accident.
The district swiftly moved to take away 37 routes worth more than $1 million. Those routes were put out for public bids. Those bids have come in and the district will open them publicly on Friday morning.
The final termination of the 37 routes comes after new contracts are awarded, according to officials.