Elizabeth Forward School District files lawsuit against bus company

Elizabeth Forward School District students start next week, and right now, there aren't any buses to take them there. MORE: https://on.wpxi.com/2HbzyQx Subscribe to WPXI: https://on.wpxi.com/YouTube Connect with WPXI online: https://www.wpxi.com/ Download our FREE apps: https://wpxiapps.com/

Elizabeth Forward School District students start next week, and right now, there aren't any buses to take them there.

The school district filed a lawsuit against Pennsylvania Coach Lines.

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The district said the bus service said it won't transport students, giving no reason why.

The superintendent said the district has been unsuccessful in trying to fix this, meaning thousands of students may not have a ride to school or any extracurricular activities.

The district said the following in a news release:

"Over the past two weeks, EFSD has tried unsuccessfully to resolve this matter amicably with PA Coach and avoid litigation," said Dr. Todd Keruskin, Superintendent, EFSD. "The result of PA Coach's action is that thousands of students, including several hundred special needs children, may not have adequate transportation to school which starts Thursday, August 22."

The President and Owner of Pennsylvania Coach Lines, David L. Sunstein, sent Channel 11 the following statement in response to the lawsuit:

"The assertions outlined by the Superintendent of Elizabeth Forward School District against Pennsylvania Coach Lines are both untruthful and inaccurate. The students, families and staff of Elizabeth Forward have my full empathy and my heartfelt and genuine concern, however the School District must take responsibility for its own shortcomings.

We cannot account for the failure of the Superintendent to negotiate in good faith and see to it that a fully written and integrated contract was executed in a timely fashion by the School District. PA Coach has served many school districts in the region for 40 years and we’ve done so with the primary obligation of safe, reliable transportation for the many thousands of children in our care each year.

Despite many months of effort on our part beginning as early as March 2017, The District has been unable to reach an agreement beyond the contract which expired on June 30, 2019, with all duties fulfilled at that time. It is not inconsequential that, at the same time, the School District had failed to make payments to PA Coach for past services which were in excess of $1,112,117 as of December 31, 2018.  No reasons were ever given for the delay in payment, however our services continued unwaveringly.

Having no contract on August 2, 2019, we could no longer wait for the Superintendent to act and in an effort to clarify our position with the School Board regarding the failure to reach agreement, we explained our intention to allocate our buses elsewhere. No business can be obligated to operate for free – and it’s easy to understand that we don’t undertake a multi-year, multi-million-dollar agreement without a signed contract for the mutual benefit, protection and safety of everyone involved.

This is not only a quality assurance of our business practice, it's the requirement of the Pennsylvania School Code and the Auditor General of the Commonwealth which insist on these same safeguards.
I could not be more disappointed in the District's actions."