School Bus Fleet's litigation report roundup features a rundown of recent headlines involving lawsuits and other litigation in pupil transportation. - Photo: Canva/School Bus Fleet

School Bus Fleet's litigation report roundup features a rundown of recent headlines involving lawsuits and other litigation in pupil transportation.

Photo: Canva/School Bus Fleet

Across the country, lawsuits and other forms of litigation involving school buses and pupil transportation are making headlines. School Bus Fleet has a roundup of recent headlines, including:

  • Massachusetts mother sues after son allegedly beaten by school bus monitor.
  • Illinois mother sues after two children killed in crash involving school bus.
  • New York man challenges school bus camera program with lawsuit.
  • New Jersey board of education sues borough over delays in transportation depot construction.

Massachusetts Mother Sues After Son Allegedly Beaten by School Bus Monitor

A Massachusetts woman whose 11-year-old autistic son was reportedly beaten by a school bus monitor in Springfield has filed a $1 million civil lawsuit. The lawsuit names the criminal defendants and the van company.

Mass Live reported that the lawsuit alleged that bus monitor Judy Cubin and bus driver William Kane either threatened or assaulted the boy on four separate occasions in March and May of last year.

Cubin was allegedly caught on video beating the boy with her fists and a ruler, with Kane egging her on from the driver’s seat. Video recordings reportedly caught Kane telling the boy, "you're going to get your head smashed in."

The video was impounded by a judge at the defendants’ initial arraignments. A prosecutor told a judge the boy could be heard screaming and crying in the footage.

The incidents cited also include failing to protect the boy from being beaten by another student.

Cubin and Kane were indicted in May 2023; both pleaded not guilty.

The civil lawsuit names Cubin, Kane, Van Pool Transportation LLC, and its insurance carrier.

The van company had a contract with the city of Springfield to transport children from their homes to schools, including to Center School for Crisis Prevention, which the 11-year-old boy attended.

Illinois Mother Sues After Two Children Killed in Crash Involving School Bus

The mother of a pair of siblings killed on Halloween 2022 when the SUV they were riding in collided with a school bus in Kane County, Ill., has filed a lawsuit.

Wendy Diewald named the SUV driver, as well as Central School District 301 and Kane County. She is seeking at least $50,000 in damages through the lawsuit, which alleges driver Tyler Schmidt, 19, failed to yield to avoid an accident, drove too fast, failed to stop or keep a proper lookout for other vehicles, and was distracted while he drove.

Diewald's children, 19-year-old Emil and 20-year-old Grace, were killed in the crash.

Surviving passenger Kiley Cox, who was 17 at the time of the crash, also is suing Schmidt. She stated in court documents that she suffered “catastrophic injuries resulting in medical expense, pain, suffering and disability," the Daily Herald reported.

Schmidt faces several felonies charges in connection to the crash, including aggravated driving under the influence and reckless homicide.

Officials with the Kane County Sheriff's Office said he was driving an SUV during the time of the afternoon route on Oct. 31, 2022, when he struck the school bus. The bus, with 24 children onboard, was coming from Lily Lake Elementary School and had stopped to drop off students when the crash occurred.

Grace Diewald was a front seat passenger, with her brother seated behind her. Cox was seated behind the driver. The siblings died at the scene.

The lawsuits also allege that the bus stop was unsafe and contributed to the accident because it didn’t have warning signs.

Both Central District 301 and Kane County have filed motions asking for the lawsuits to be dismissed, the Daily Herald reported.

The district stated that the plaintiff's complaint failed to allege facts sufficieent to state a claim.

The county cited the Local Governmental And Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, which it argues immunizes the county from liability in connection with an alleged failure to put up bus stop warning signs.

The cases are due back in court April 2. The next court date for Schmidt's pending criminal case is March 1.

New York Man Challenges School Bus Camera Program with Lawsuit

A Long Island, N.Y., man has filed a class-action lawsuit against the town where he received a ticket from a video-generated system for passing a school bus with its stop arm out. 

Sergey Kadinsky paid the ticket he received, but has since filed a class-action lawsuit against the Town of Hempstead where it was issued, Fox 5 New York reported.

The original law makes it illegal to pass a school bus only when a bus is either loading or unloading passengers.

Kadinsky argues that when looking back at the images from the citation, the angles of the video cameras currently on buses don’t always make it clear whether a bus is actually loading or unloading passengers at the time the ticket was issued.

Kadinsky's suit contends the proof is "invalid and legally insufficient," failing to show it's a marked school bus loading or unloading passengers, as required by state law.

Others have joined the class-action suit, calling for their $250 tickets to be refunded. CBS News reported that 132,000 violations were issued in just over a year.

The lawsuit comes after a Suffolk County driver's ticket was thrown out by a state appeals court. The judges found insufficient evidence that the bus was a school bus. 

Paul Sabatino, former counsel to the Suffolk County legislature, told CBS News that these challenges could potentially nullify the entire state law, but he believes the video will hold up in court. 

Kadinsky said his goal is not to see the law repealed, but fixed to fulfill its safety goals. 

BusPatrol, the company that administers the camera program, said in a statement to CBS News that the lawsuit "lacks merit."

New Jersey Board of Education Sues Borough Over Delays in Transportation Depot Construction

The Sayreville Board of Education in New Jersey is suing the borough of Sayreville for what it called a breach of contract regarding delays in the construction of a proposed pupil transportation complex.

The BOE claims the borough did not keep up its end of the bargain on the proposed complex.

The BOE had planned to construct a student transportation complex on property owned by the municipality, according to court documents.

TAPinto reported that the Sayreville School District brought its transportation services in-house in 2017, leading to the need for a transportation center so buses would not take up parking spots at one of the local high schools.

The school district provides bus transportation for over 5,300 students and owns and operates 49 buses, 17 minibuses, and other vehicles.

The BOE was going to lease some of its property to the borough in exchange for the borough leasing some of its property to the BOE for the construction of the transportation complex. The borough agreed to clear land for the facility.

Court documents stated that between April 2022 and November 2023, the borough and BOE held discussions on what financial contributions the borough would make toward the proposal, discussed potential environmental restrictions, and presented the plan before the borough planning board.

The planning board had concerns about the project, and residents nearby expressed concerns about the project. The borough's governing body objected the financial contributions the BOE asked for. Borough officials planned to forego any further action toward the proposal.

After moving the planned project to another property, construction began. The BOE stated it would pay for the construction from its capital reserve fund.

However, the borough informed the district it would hold off on signing the lease giving the land to the BOE after residents raised traffic concerns over the dozens of buses that would be serviced and housed on the property.

Residents also raised environmental concerns, calling the land severely polluted because the previous occupant of the land was a chemical manufacturing plant.

The BOE filed suit, asking the Superior Court of Middlesex County to declare that the memorandum of understanding breaking down the lease exchange plan and transportation complex proposal was a binding, legally sufficient contract.

The BOE asked the court to order the borough to maintain its proposal, allowing the BOE to continue with the construction of the transportation complex. It also asked that the borough reimburse it for increased constructions costs caused by the delay, as well as legal costs associated with the suit.

The BOE also believes the complex would have been built by now if it were still on the original property, had it not been for the borough's proposal to move construction to another property.

The borough disagreed with the BOE's statement, calling the memorandum of understanding "legally insufficient" to serve as a binding contract. The borough asked the court to dismiss the complaint.

At a Jan. 26 court hearing, a judge set a date for the borough's motion to dismiss to be heard. It's set for Feb. 16.

About the author
Christy Grimes

Christy Grimes

Senior Editor

Christy Grimes is a Senior Editor at Bobit, working on Automotive Fleet and Government Fleet publications. She has also written for School Bus Fleet.

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