Union sues Mon board over charter bus info

MORGANTOWN- The union representing public school service employee's is alleging the Monongalia County school board is putting students at risk by not checking the credentials of drivers not employed by the county who are transporting students to school-sponsored activities. The West Virginia School Service Personnel Association on Aug. 17 filed suit against the Monongalia County Board of Education. In its complaint filed in Monongalia Circuit Court, WVSSPA asked the court to order the Board to comply with provisions of state code requiring drivers of privately chartered buses provide detailed background information before transporting students. According to WVSSPA's complaint, all owners of vehicles that are capable of seating 16 or more people are required to "provide to the county board of education proof that the vehicle and the driver satisfy the requirements of the State Board rule." Provisions of that rule include providing information on safety inspections, certification of the driver's training and criminal history and insurance coverage. WVSSPA alleges that the Board has breached non-discretionary, mandatory duty to require the information from all charter bus companies. Instead, the Board considers "a statement of their compliance was sufficient so long as they satisfied the insurance requirements." Attached as an exhibit to WVSSPA's complaint is a memorandum dated Jan. 16 from Irv Schuetzner, the Board's director of transportation. In memo, Schuetzner claims that he was advised he could not collect the remaining information because it was considered "confidential." However, WVSSPA claims that state law is clear that the Board shall require charter bus companies to provide that information, and failure to do so only endangers the lives of children. Until all charter bus companies can provide the additional information to the Board, WVSSPA is asking the court to bar them from transporting children. WVSSPA asks that it be awarded attorneys fees for bringing its writ of mandamus. WVSSPA is represented by Morgantown attorney Vincent Trivelli. The case is assigned to Judge Phillip D. Gaujot. Monongalia Circuit Court Case No. 09-C-587

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