DC Public Schools say bus company failed to protect students
The driver had a previous arrest for drunk driving, other drivers were not licensed, and regulators say the company contracted by DCPS is ‘not in good standing.’
PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, Md. — DC Public Schools Chancellor Dr. Lewis Ferebee said Friday he considers bus company Rome Charters, LLC in “breach” of its contract with the district after one of Rome Charters bus drivers was arrested for driving drunk while transporting more than 40 kindergarteners home from a field trip the day before.
At the same time, parents at the school where the kids were from, Murch Elementary, say they aren’t letting DCPS off the hook either.
“You put onus on everyone involved,” said parent Stephanie Stephanie Haley while picking up her child at school.
Police say two busloads of students from Murch Elementary had just left Cox Farms in Fairfax County, Va. when 48-year-old Troy Reynolds ran his bus off the road, damaged it, and kept driving until teachers convinced him to pull over and called 911.
RELATED: DCPS Chancellor promises review after bus driver arrested for DUI, others cited without valid licenses
Reynolds was charged with nine counts of reckless endangerment of a child, driving while intoxicated, and is accused of being 2 1/2 times over the legal limit for any driver.
Police say he shouldn’t have been on the road in the first place because his license was suspended for a previous drunk driving charge.
On top of that, two other bus drivers from the same bus company did not have a proper license, and their buses had safety issues, police said.
That company is Rome Charters, LLC.
All day Friday, WUSA9 tried to get answers from the company. No one would comment at the company’s bus yard in Prince George’s County.
No one answered at the house in Southeast DC where Rome Charters is registered and the office in downtown DC was empty.
Maryland state records show Rome Charters is not in good standing and is listed as “dissolved.”
“We intend to ensure that the vendor is held accountable,” said Dr. Ferebee. “We have not…gotten satisfactory responses from Rome Charters but, we will continue to ask questions.”
Ferebee told WUSA9 the company did tell the District it checks drivers for any impairment before they leave for a route and uses GPS monitoring to determine if a driver deviates from the assigned route. In this case, Ferebee said the company said Reynolds was cleared to drive and did not drive anyone he was not assigned on the trip.
“We expect somebody to do due diligence, either in school or DCPS, but to make sure that the drivers are licensed to drive and sober to drive and safe to drive,” said Murch Elementary parent Sonia Delman.
She says she’s not currently comfortable sending her child on a bus with the school.
“I wouldn’t do it until I hear what they’re doing to address it, how it’s possible that it failed and that it wouldn’t fail in the future,” she said.
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