Columbus, OH

Lack of School Bus Drivers Leads To 700K Law Suit

Jake Wells

Groveport Madison school district, located southeast of Columbus, received a fine from the Ohio Department of Education said last year the district was breaking state law by not busing students attending a Columbus charter school. As a result, Groveport Madison owes the state of Ohio $689,000.

In response to this fine, Groveport Madison filed a lawsuit in Franklin County and claims the state's interpretation of what constitutes a “consistent or prolonged period of noncompliance" is arbitrary and the law is too vague to be constitutional.

Ohio law requires that public schools transport all eligible students. The Ohio Revised Code then fines for violations of this law. ODE interprets that to mean 10 consecutive days or 10 total days in a semester.

When a school districts is found to be non-compliant they are fined for the number of days that transportation was not available to students. In Groveport Madison's case, that's $53,000 per day multiplied by 13 days, according to the lawsuit.

Groveport Madison calls the process both unconstitutional and unfair as they were not able to state their case and there was no due process. Essentially, the district just loses transportation funds.

According to the lawsuit, Groveport Madison states that the school district's subcontractor, Petermann, had shortcomings that created an unpredictable and ever-changing transportation environment throughout the 2021 school year, involving reduced and cancelled routes, often without notice, impacting students of District, nonpublic and community schools. (source)

School Bus Driver Shortage Across The Country

There is a nationwide shortage of school bus drivers. For more on this see the following video.

Despite the shortage of drivers, Ohio law requires public schools to transport all eligible students, including those who choose private or charter schools. And the state can fine districts for not complying.

Groveport Madison contracts with a company called Petermann Transportation for its busing and the subcontractor is to blame, not the school district. According to the lawsuit, Groveport Madison states that Petermann’s shortcomings have created an unpredictable and ever-changing transportation environment throughout the 2021 school year, involving reduced and cancelled routes, often without notice, impacting students of District, nonpublic and community schools.

In response to Petermann’s inability to provide satisfactory transportation services, Groveport Madison has repeatedly and consistently strived to ensure that it meets its statutory obligation to provide transportation to all students residing within the District, including students of nonpublic and community schools. These efforts have included altering school schedules and bus routes, exploring alternative means of transportation,(source)

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