Mars busing policy again questioned by parents

June 27, 2020 Cranberry Local News

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ADAMS TWP — Several Mars Area School District parents have approached the board to notify them of alleged issues with the district's contracted busing company — A.J. Myers & Sons.

“We're here to just discuss our ongoing and challenging issues with A.J. Myers as a transportation company,” said Sonny McManigle, who attended Tuesday's board meeting with his wife, Amanda. “They've proven to be unsafe and untrustworthy,” he said.

This is the second time parents of special education students have approached the board with concerns about the busing company during the 2019-20 school year. In November 2019, Julia Konitzky asked the board to review district policy on bus driver education and training. At that time, Konitzky said she had encountered “illegal” procedures on the bus used by one of her children.

Sonny McManigle told the board Tuesday the couple's daughter has an individualized education plan (IEP) and is at high risk for strokes and epilepsy. This information is noted in her IEP documentation, according to the McManigles.

He said the busing company neither provides support for parents nor safe transportation for students like his daughter.

“We're currently undergoing work to circumvent transportation from A.J. Myers or compensation to us for avoiding them completely,” he said.

Without getting into details, McManigle said his family has struggled with transportation services in both a busing and a van setting.

Among the problems he cited were a lack of communication between the company and parents when it came to holding children on the bus, dropping children off at the wrong bus stop, and potential health situations occurring while in transit. “They're clearly breaking policy,” Sonny said. “I think voices go unheard.”

When trying to work with the company to resolve issues, McManigle said representatives became “argumentative and, at times, (did) attempt to use intimidation.”

No representative of A.J. Myers & Sons was identified during the meeting.

When the Eagle called the Mars terminal for A.J. Myers in Adams Township for comment, the person who answered the phone said no one qualified to speak for the company could be reached before Monday.

The McManigles expressed their concern that the district doesn't have a transportation policy specific to the busing of special education students.

Board President John Kennedy asked if the McManigles had met with district administration on the issue. Elizabeth McMahon, assistant superintendent, and Amanda McManigle said they had touched base.

“We talked about it,” Amanda McManigle said. “This is an ongoing issue.”

Sonny McManigle said he and his wife have filed complaints with the company's corporate entity and the Better Business Bureau. The McManigles said they're seeking legal counsel. “We are following forward with that,” Sonny said. “But you as a board vote on this transportation company.”

“At this point, we just don't feel like we can trust them,” Amanda McManigle said. “I don't feel like they're making good judgements.”

The McManigles said they plan to meet with representatives from the busing company. McMahon said she will be present during the meeting.

“I think we just need to get together and talk,” Kennedy said. Sonny McManigle offered to assist the board in issuing requests for proposals for new transportation companies. “I can help in that manner in any way,” he said. “I truly want them voted out.”

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Samantha Beal

Samantha Beal