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Anderson Community Schools terminates contract with transportation company over bad buses

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By Kendall Downing

ANDERSON, Ind. (Nov. 11, 2014)-- Anderson Community Schools (ACS) Board of School Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday night to terminate transportation contracts with Webber Transportation over school buses with critical violations.

You'll remember Indiana State Police pulled 29 of the company's buses off the road back in October because of safety concerns. 

The decision Tuesday was a unanimous one by the school board. The district said safety of students simply cannot be at risk. But the attorney for the company was angry after the meeting, claiming he didn't get a chance to present his plan.

"All I can explain is that we didn't get the respect we should've gotten at the board meeting," said John Shanks, attorney for Webber Transportation.

Shanks moved to the front row when the item came up for a vote, but board members did not allow time to speak, instead quickly taking a vote. Shanks said he was ready to show off Webber Transportation's new inspection report forms.

A district spokesperson said the anger wasn't warranted.

"Webber had their opportunity to present at the hearing," said Amanda McCammon, Director of Student Services for Anderson Community Schools.

That hearing was back on November 3rd. The district revealed the results just before the board's vote Tuesday night.

ACS said that Webber Transportation failed to offer any mitigating reasons for its unsatisfactory maintenance of the school buses and failed to offer a plan of action for future maintenance and inspections to ensure the safety of ACS students.

Administrators recommended canceling Webber's bus contracts because of incompetency and negligence.

In October, Indiana State Police pulled 29 of Webber Transportation's buses off the road. According to the district's records, 27 had a brake and kingpin inspection that had lapsed. And of the 29, 18 had other violations that would've taken them out of service, like engine or transmission leaks or problems stopping.

"We want to do whatever we can on our end to make sure the safety of these fleets is upheld," said McCammon.

McCammon said the ordeal may spark new safety requirements for their other contractors moving forward.

Now, Webber Transportation is on the outside looking in, because after 27 years their business with Anderson Community Schools ended on Tuesday night.

"They're done. They're done," said Shanks, "Now we will evaluate other legal issues."

Anderson Community Schools are continuing with the same backup plan they used when the buses first got sidelined in October. McCammon said students are not seeing any delays.

The district's report reveals another instance where Webber Transportation buses had to be pulled, back in December of 2012. At that time the district did not have a backup plan, and the superintendent called for a snow day to prevent transportation issues.