DENVER — On May 8, Peggy Burns presented a Web seminar on anticipating and preparing for legal issues in school transportation management during tough economic times. Video, audio and slides from the session were broadcast live online, with 51 viewers at peak attendance.
NAPT, which co-hosted the session at Adams 12 Five Star Schools in Denver, invited local association members to attend in person. About 12 people composed the "in-studio" audience.
Burns, an attorney, consultant and owner of Education Compliance Group Inc., discussed the challenges that arise at school bus operations when budgets and staff are being cut, and the legal implications of these changes.
She explained that services will be impacted and staff members will need to be cross-trained to cover additional duties. “I’ve talked to people who are losing their entire leadership team,” she said.
Burns analyzed both real court cases and hypothetical situations, including a case in which a school district was sued for discontinuation of transportation service to a particular area. She also discussed the effects of route consolidation, such as changing bus stop locations and increasing walking distances.
In resolving these issues, she urged attendees to bring community members into the process to gather their input, document every step of the process and monitor the results once a decision has been made. “Communicate your rationale,” she said. “If something was inherited from your predecessor, saying it was [decided] before you doesn’t fly in legal cases — it’s your school, it’s your bus company.”
Burns also stressed the importance of maintaining an awareness of labor standards legislation and consulting human resources and legal counsel in order to protect the operation from lawsuits.
At the end of her presentation, Burns answered questions sent in by Web viewers.