The school bus company owned by councilman Shahin Khalique’s brother is expected to receive an additional 31 routes taken away from another transportation firm for two incidents that placed children at risk.
A-1 Elegant Tours owned by Khalique’s brother Shelim Khalique was the lowest bidder on 31 out of the 37 routes the district took from Woodland Park-based U.S. Student Services last month, according to district records.
The 37 routes are worth more than a million dollars. Other firms likely to benefit from U.S. Student Services loss are Jersey Kids and We Care School Trans. Both submitted lowest bids on one route each.
School officials publicly opened the bids on Friday. Anthony Van Zwaren, attorney for U.S. Student Services, attempted to convince a judge to restrain the bidding process without success.
Van Zwaren said his firm is filing an appeal with the district for a hearing.
Some had expected the Khalique firm to benefit when the district’s acting superintendent Eileen Shafer severed ties with U.S. Student Services in September. She cited two incidents, one where the bus did not conduct a child check and failed to drop off a sleeping child at a school and another where a bus driver was involved in an accident and failed to report it to the district.
A-1 Elegant Tours also failed to drop off a student and it was involved in an accident. However, that accident was reported to the district. Students were not injured in the accidents.
The councilman had his team assist school board members Christopher Irving, Flavio Rivera, and Manny Martinez during their November 2016 campaign. Former school board member Errol Kerr alleged the firm was receiving more contracts due to its connection with the board members.
All three board members have said the contracts are awarded through an open bidding process. School board members will vote on awarding the contracts on Oct. 18th, 2017.
The Khalique family received $1.75 million in bussing contracts in 2016-17. $1.58 million in contracts was awarded to Summit-based A-1 Elegant Tours and $163,855 in contracts to Totowa-based American Star Transportation.
Owner of A-1 Elegant Tours has said his firm employees more than 100 Paterson residents. The firm has an office on the corner of Paterson and River Streets.
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