Contract Says School Bus in Fatal Incident Was Not Supposed to Carry Non-Paterson Students
Thursday, January 17, 2013 • 2:56pm
PATERSON, NJ – The bus involved in a January 2 incident that resulted in the death of a 14-year-old Paterson girl was not supposed to be carrying students from other school districts, according to Paterson Public Schools’ contract with the transportation company.
But at the time of the incident – in which the Paterson student stepped out of the rear emergency door while the vehicle was in motion – the bus was in Rutherford on its way to drop off a Lyndhurst student, according to police.
“The transportation contractor shall transport only designated student(s) and personnel over route(s) as set forth on fully detailed specifications,’’ reads the school district’s contract with K&M Transportation of Wallington. “The commingling of students is prohibited unless authorized by the district board of education through the joint transportation agreement process.”
City school officials said “commingling” means having students from Paterson and other districts together on the same bus. Officials said K&M had not received the special authorization required to commingle students. By commingling students, the company was having one bus handle multiple routes, officials said.
The contract also said the bus was supposed to have two aides aboard, but Rutherford police have said there was only one aide on the vehicle at the time of the incident. Under the annual contract, Paterson education officials were paying K&M an extra $5,400 for the second aide on that bus route. None of the district’s other routes with K&M required more than one aide, according to the contract.
K&M has not responded to PatersonPress.com’s phone messages seeking its comment on the situation.
The school district already has terminated its contract with K&M on the grounds that the company did not comply with the terms of the agreement. But officials have declined to discuss details of exactly why they ended the contract, saying the investigation of the incident was still ongoing. Officials also said they expect the case to become the subject of lawsuits.
The Paterson student, Onynx Williams of N. 5th Street, died several days after the incident. Authorities have said they are not sure what prompted her to step off the moving vehicle. It happened so quick, police have said, that the one aide on the bus could not stop her.
The bus was taking students home from the Venture school in Hackensack, a program for children with special mental health needs, when the incident happened on Riverside Avenue in Rutherford, near the Lyndhurst border, according to police. There were three other students on the bus at the time of the incident, police said.