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Friday, May 30, 2014

Era: Austin school district says school buses, students are safe

Austin school district says school buses, students are safe

By COLIN DEPPEN Era Reporter c.deppen@bradfordera.com
Bradford Era

Officials with the Austin Area School District in Potter County are responding to allegations that its school buses and vehicles are overcrowded, unsafe and illegally operated, assuring parents that the safety of hundreds of daily bus riding students is not at risk despite a growing record of bus company infractions and mounting public concern. Read more......

62 comments:

Anonymous said...

I count over 55 citations since 2010. Yup their safe

http://ujsportal.pacourts.us/DocketSheets/MDJ.aspx

Anonymous said...

Ive sat back and listened to my uncle get bashed over and over this past week! well I'm sick of it. Have there been issues. yes. Are they resolved. yes. And if you think that's its only Austin area busses well then your sadly mistaken! This doesn't have to do with mechanical issues but I remember my girls telling me that a bus driver was touching little girls butts as they were getting off their bus last year and also that their bus driver was stopping with students still on the bus for a cigg. Did you see me calling every Tom dick and harry and slandering Coudy and their bussing service. NOPE. sure didn't because guess what. They handled it. He was fired. LIFE GOES ON!!!!!!!!!!!! This isn't someones hobby. This is his career!

Anonymous said...

way to go AUSTIN

Anonymous said...

They fail.to mention the driver quoted in the article was fired

Anonymous said...

This will be sweept under the rug just like the last 55 times... PSP and ASD look the other way. Always have and probably always will. Unfortunatly a child will have to get badly hurt or killed before something will be done about it. Then all we will hear is "we didn't see any signs that something was wrong" Wake up Austin School District!! How can you even suggest these buses are safe givin the long documented history that they are not???

Anonymous said...

This goes out to 3:16. I drive commerical trucks for a living and you don't have a clue what the hell your talking about. Everytime you start that commerical vehicle you do a pretrip report or atleast a visial inspection. This company's track record is totally unacceptable. He has how many buses? Somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 maybe. He won't have to worry about what the public thinks of his business. In the transportation industry we have a company profile with the state and the feds. You get points for every violation you get. He is well on his way to be in a high risk pool. It won't be long before he can't afford insurance.

Anonymous said...

Who is in charge of the Transportation committee. This Director should be held accountable.

Anonymous said...

They really should do some fact checking before publishing this article the driver quoted was fired she did not quit, and since she was fired she has been on a witch hunt. I'm sick and tired of my kid coming home upset every day because he hears at school that his dad is going to lose his job. If parents aren't happy take it to the school board not the media there are proper channels to handle this.

Better Than You said...

You're citing the Bradford Error?

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

to 4:09. That's not what I was saying at all. I was simply saying that its being handled by the board now so why keep slandering someone?? For you to say that I don't know what I'm talking about. Well to that I say ....Since your driving truck for a living I'm guessing ...just guessing you didn't go to college. don't tell me that I don't know what I'm talking about like I'm some kind of idiot ok. I'm someone who has sat back and listened to a family member being slandered repeatedly and I'm sick of it. Are your closets completely clean. I can guarantee not! So do your self a favor and shut up!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

The Austin buses are in bad shape. My dad went on a field trip with my daughter last year and was worried that he wasn't going to make it home because the van was in such bad shape. And she was just telling me yest that on the way back from their field trip last week that the bus stalled like six times!

Anonymous said...

This goes out to:
3:55 Anonymous said...
They fail.to mention the driver quoted in the article was fired &
4:14



The driver "quoted in this article" was NOT fired. She refused to drive the unsafe buses and told her boss she will not drive until he brings her a safe one. Also to 3:16, I'm not sure where you get your information that the issues have been "resolved" but you need to check your facts. Maybe you should take a ride on one of these buses before you make these assumptions. And really if little girls were being touched inappropriately I CERTAINLY hope you did something about it.
However, I understand he is your family so of course you're going to be bias.

Anonymous said...

ok. This is my last comment. Because I'm done after this. Even if this wasn't a family member I'd still say let whoever is paid for dealing with it ..deal with it. On another note. I was listening to what my children were saying . Did I see that bus driver touch little kids...ummm no. Was it my child...NO. If it was you could bet your sweet ass I would have said something. It wasn't so I let it be dealt with by the proper authority.

Anonymous said...

And let me just clarify. I knew it was being handled. So to go contacting everyone on gods green earth about it was pointless..

Anonymous said...

The Austin Area school has a long history of sweeping things under the rug! There have been children sick from the leaky exhaust systems on the buses. Some of the things that have gone on are borderline criminal. Their inside deals have wasted more money over the years than most family's live on . They spend money like a drunken sailor on crap and then cry poor! The list is endless! They now have 40 or so staff and just made another inside deal and hired a grant funded employee as another administrator (without advertizing for the position) yet no one seems to know how much her second salary is! And oh did i mention she rents from Mr Sasala! People have been complaining about the buses ever since the other bus contractor was screwed by the school board. He always maintained his buses in tip top shape. I am also told the current bus contract was just renewed for another five years.

Anonymous said...

what every hapend to good old frank and nancy they both did a great job working on the bus's we need them back bus's was always clean frank always had the bus's running good no worry with frank on trips

Anonymous said...

I heard next year he is upgrading to a couple new busses so everyone will shut the hell up. But why he only bid like sixty grand on the contract is beyond me. He can't be making much money, and if he upgrades he won't make any!

Anonymous said...

Just my 2c opinion
“Bollhorst denies his fleet is unsafe and described the public criticism as nothing more than a smear campaign orchestrated by disgruntled employees”
The only campaign is the track record of ongoing citations for the prior years.

“Acting district Superintendent Jerry Sasala on Thursday weighed in on the subject, saying, “We’re working on a shoestring budget and doing everything we can to work with our contractor and the number one thing is safety.” Sasala added, “We never felt that student safety was in jeopardy”
When does a student’s safety become a concern Sasdala? At 155 citations? When does it become a pattern of neglect? More? How many complaints are needed?
A 2012 Pennsylvania Auditor General audit of the Austin Area School District found the district continued use of improperly certified bus drivers years after state agencies called on school officials to begin taking corrective action.
According to the report, bus drivers with Bollhorst Busing and Austin district lacked “proper school bus driver skills and safety training” and that criminal background and child abuse clearances for drivers were not on file with the district. The report says the discrepancies were first uncovered in 2006 and remained unaddressed as of 2012.
Sasala said while failing to meet state requirements of school bus operators, the drivers met the terms of the district’s transportation contract with Bollhorst Busing.
“Our contracts say they (drivers) have to have a valid PA drivers license and valid physician certificate, which they do have, by our contract it was completely legal,” Sasala said. He added, “I guess we will have to update our (transportation) contract.”

Yea, I guess you’ll have to update your contract. Look what has had to take place in order to do that. Heaven forbid something happens to a student, health issues from breathing fumes, an accident, a fatality, every school board member is at great risk with the ongoing knowledge they have of these years of concerns and their failure to address or monitor the issue. This is like raw meat for any highly trained injury attorney. If I was a parent, I would start with blood tests to detect any elevated levels of co2 in the blood stream, then progress to brain damage testing of any child riding a bus. Better yet, just homeschool your children & starve out the district.

Anonymous said...

There is so much wrong here, I think 7:12PM covered things best and intelligently.

“Our contracts say they (drivers) have to have a valid PA drivers license and valid physician certificate, which they do have, by our contract it was completely legal,” Sasala said. He added, “I guess we will have to update our (transportation) contract.”

Wow, lets not have too many qualifications or background checks. They are only transporting YOUR CHILDREN!!!

Nice to see at least 1 parent taking a stand and doing the right thing! Should be more concerned parents like her! Great to see Mr. Causer checking on the situation and I hope he will follow up closely.

Anonymous said...

That parent wasn't taking a stand. She saw an opportunity for attention and ran with it. She is happy to be in the center of this all. I work with her and see it everyday.

Anonymous said...

Post 6:11 you forgot to mention how the principal is Also the guidance counselor and acting superintendent, and getting two different pay checks... How on earth can a school district allow the guidance counselor to become the principal and acting superintendent....???? As far as the buses, I can't believe the crap that Dan gets away with!!!!! And the board should be ashamed of what they do!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

The sad part is here's a couple of examples of how things work in Austin. A few years ago a snow plow contractor was hired by the school board and they new that his drivers license was under suspension for DUI. The same snow removal contract was given to a person years later that was on disability and it stated in the paper work that the check was to be made out in his wife's name . A couple of years ago a under age girl was (dating ) a teacher the board and all the faculty new about it absolutely nothing was done! And last but not least about 5 years ago a parent went to a school board member with concerns about some possible inappropriate contact with some young girls by a teacher she was told she better shut her mouth because her kids still had to go to school here! These are just a few of an endless list of what go's on here in Austin! If you make waves with the school board or borough council you and your children will be openly ridiculed for causing trouble! And just like in the news paper article they cover their buts in public and then go into executive session laugh it off and make more bad decisions that hurt the community.

Anonymous said...

It's nice to see so many comments backing the concerned parents. Clearly there is an issue and the proof is all there for the public eye. No need for anyone to "take a stand" or "be the center of it" a little bit of investigating goes a long way. Former Emporium drivers for Bollhurst are also wanting to comment and take this further. I personally feel it's a great idea! As for bus drivers wife/son/niece shame on your family member for putting children's lives in jeopardy and piling them in trunks and on the floor like animals. The issue isn't only with the Bollhurst it's also with the school district. This article and comments speaks for itself. 98% of the posts agree with what was in the paper the rest are of course bias family members. Lastly to the post stating take it to the board, clearly you didn't read the article or know the group of parents taking action because the board was also previously contacted before the police. Still no action taken. Media or "every tom dick and Harry" is what this situation needed. If u want to let this stuff happen to your children that's on you, kudos to those that are taking action and putting an end to this on going battle!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad school will be out in five days for the summer. No kids were hurt and they all got to and from school safely! Talk about a bunch of drama queens! I'm sure any issues will be resolved by time school starts next year! If the busses were that bad, the state police wouldn't allow children to be put in jeopardy. They have been at the school countless times inspecting them!

Anonymous said...

8:35 I can assure you the principal doesn't receive two different paychecks. Although I think she deserves it and wish she did!

Anonymous said...


In my opinion From the school's web site these are the people you hold accountable if you child is injured, killed, or damaged from their prior knowledge of the careless track record of their contractor. -

Jerome Sasala
Mrs. Sherry Clark
Ms. Kathy Fox
Mrs. Britta Hooftallen
Mrs. Julie Jeffers
Mrs. Sherri Lamer
Mrs. Leona Miller
Mr. Darwin Reese
Mrs. Michelle Valenti
Mr. Ralph young
Mrs. Kathy Jeffers

Anonymous said...

Yeah ok. Frank passing cars at 70 mph on 872 with the coach bus with the principal on board. He was a maniac in those busses

Anonymous said...

WOW, I'm not from Austin & thank God my children do not attend this school, maybe they should just close the school, Wow this is really amazing!

Anonymous said...

The bus contracts should have never been taken away from John & Sandy Fowler!!!
There would never be all this trouble!!!

Anonymous said...

I am new to Austin and this is the first year my child rode in these bus's. She would come home and tell me about the nasty smell in the bus and she always had a bad headache. Our family Dr. said it was a migraine. Now that I know all of this I am going to make an appointment with the Dr. to check for poisoning. I pray to God the tests come back negative because if it is positive I will own all of those bus's, there property, the school and anything else I can get my hands on not because of the money but to prove a point that this will not be tolerated. This has been going on for the whole year with these headaches and I had no idea. This is a shame that this has been going on for so long. If I would have ever known that the bus drivers never had a background check I would have never left my child get on the bus. Do any of these drivers have a police record? If so, and it has anything to do with the abuse of children of some sort I promise you will be held accountable for that as well. I am not one to start a fight but I sure as hell will finish it with everything I have. This will not be tolerated any longer. Our children mean everything to us but apparently not to the bus company or the school. A place where we send our children without a second thought as to there safety. But apparently safety is an issue.

Anonymous said...

May we PLEASE bring down the dildine on this pointless speculation and let it take it's coarse through the proper authorities now?

Anonymous said...

Was there a cover up? If so that is hanus.
Is this tolerated by the school district? If so that is feckless.
They said they would rather violate a law and pay a fine because that is cheaper than paying a teacher salary? That set's a terrible example for the students. If so, anyone behind that decision is an oaf.
No one can deny these conclusions.

A tax payer!!! said...

I wish the school would hire a whole new Co. with a whole new fleet of busses! Then when the taxes HAVE to go up to pay for it, let's see the comments on here then! Not to say money is more important then the health & welfare of children, but the Drama on here is really overboard in some comments. Hopefully this will all be resolved before next year. How bout' a bit of blame on the P.S.P., who is at the school all the time checking these busses?? Dan would NEVER purposely harm ANY child, by the way!!! He is a great man, with a heart of gold. Let's clean out the school board a little!!! They are a joke! To many chiefs & not enough Indians there! And there are surely to many teaches & aids for the number of students in Austin.In my day 1 Principle, & 1 teacher for each class. Geez, get rid of some of them & use that money toward better things.And lastly let's not bash the town, there are problems in EVERY school. Read the paper!

Anonymous said...

Saturday, May 31, 2014 at 12:16:00 AM EDT,,,the odometer stopped working on the coach bus because it over heated in Galeton,PA frank did his best to get those kids home i was one of the mom with him that day i was in the front of the bus there was no speeding when we where over heating and the principal was very upset with dan not frank because dan was blowing her off on the phone frank good job

Anonymous said...

Now do you see what i mean when i said you would be ridiculed for standing up for whats right! The Austin school board the administration and the borough council only care to make themselves look good. I use the borough council because its all tied together. They have known about these problems and countless others over the years but have done absolutely nothing ! This type of thing is why Austin is a ghost town and no one wants to live here or for that matter visit here any more!

Anonymous said...

Saturday, May 31, 2014 at 10:57:00 AM EDT that's right post was there as well that day never for get it with a junk coach bus...frank did his best

Anonymous said...

DEMAND Corbett pass the 10% fee for withdrawing natural gas and oil from the PA ground. Then we can have ne busses and other things our schools need to provide the children of PA a proper education.

Anonymous said...

everyone please leave are names out of this we where never fired dan just never called us back to work as far as i new that there was no bad terms..people are going to talk and say stuff that is not true all the time and make up stuff.all you can do is keep your head held high and go on with your life..and stop making trouble with each other because some one always get's hurt in the long run prayers for everyone..good luck god know's the truth

Anonymous said...

sounds like there are a lot of people complaining but doing nothing to help the situation, get out and volunteer and help make things better or take your children to another school and pay a tuition. Everyone has a choice and you choose to live there....

Anonymous said...

Stop complaining and VOTE, show up at a school board meeting or GOD Forbid, RUN for the board instead of just sitting on your lazy butts, moaning and groaning. Taxes paid to the district do not come close to covering the school operating budget. Instead of being an idle complainer, become a game changer. Ask what you can do to help. Go to a board meeting and SPEAK. Otherwise, prepare your kids to be bussed to Coudersport, or Port, or Emporium, because this school district will be out of funds. Oh, and by the way, while you are looking into that, compare Austin's test scores and academic accomplishments with those 3 other schools listed above...

Anonymous said...

Saturday, May 31, 2014 at 1:56:00 PM EDT............AMEN

Anonymous said...

to the anonymous post at 11:14 you really should find out who is on the school board before you say they should be held accountable bc around half of those people aren't even on the board anymore

Anonymous said...

you all for got about a bus driver he had that got busted and still let her drive.Drugs and paraphernalia found at the home included marijuana, marijuana seeds, morphine and other pills, and assorted paraphernalia associated with it’s use and packaging.

Troopers also found approximately $24,000.00 in cash and currency at the home. Police said it is believed that the money was generated by the sale of guns and/or drugs.

but then again he let 2 dam good people go i would sew him over this

Anonymous said...

yes it was reported but he still let her drive i was one of the austin mom's that reported it but it went in on ear and out the other with dan.

ray said said...

the cry babies are at it again first some of you people sough think before ruing your mouth. I am a certified heavy duty truck and bus mechanic, I have been at the school in Austin when the buses have dot inspection, by PSP inspector, seats tore by the kids who ride the buses, also kids trash the with paper, seats unlocked by kids so. the driver said would not drive bus because un safe she wasn't dong her job as a driver, she didn't do daily checks because if she did the seats would not be tore up, trash the floor seem her bus she drove, not only that she hit something and tore the metal strip off the side of the bus there was other damage on the bus which driver fault. and don't know what happen. I drove school bus nine years my bus was clean everyday and trash can clean out. when the back window got dirty took mop and clean them, I know the buses are safe to ride in, there been bad fuel bought at station in Austin, cause buses to stop running, the station had off road fuel in his on road tank witch cause a late model bus to stop running, there been fuel problem all winter witch is not a safety problem, you cry babies, keen not to worry about how the bus is, worry about how good the driver is. so most of you people would stop and think of what you saying that you know anything about, my self don't know of any person hurt riding on any bus in Austin, fade it paint is not safety factor,

Anonymous said...

May 31 8:11 pm Damn ! you drove a school bus ? And now you are a mechanic ! Scary to say the least ! May 31 4:52 pm going to a meeting in Austin gets no action and you and your children will be ridiculed by some of the board members. I actually saw a young family harassed so badly by a council member his friends and neighbors (outstanding members of the community)that the family moved out ! Sad but true!

Anonymous said...

BUS DRIVER CERTIFICATION

Steps to Acquire a New Bus Driver’s Certification

1. Complete job application and return it to our office in person.

2. Take physical form and card (provided by us) to your physician for a complete physical. We need a photo copy of the physical paper for your file. You must carry the little card in your wallet.

3. Complete the white Learners Permit application and take your physical paper and permit application to the Photo Licensing Center along with a check to apply for your permit. Your School Bus Drivers Learners Permit will be issued by the Photo Licensing Center.

Reminder: Once you have received your permit, contact our office to schedule skills training. Call (610) 856-7740 to schedule an appointment.

4. The applicant can now begin classroom instruction and practice driving skills.
a. Classroom instruction is held at the Berks County Intermediate Unit
b. Driving skills are provided by Eshelman Transportation training department by appointment
c. CDL knowledge test is a computer generated test given at the Photo Licensing Center. Study guides are provided by Eshelman Transportation. Applicant must have a valid permit to take the knowledge test.

5. After holding the permit for 15 days, successfully completing the knowledge tests, and attending the classroom instruction, you may take the skills test. The following items are required to take the skills test:
a. A valid PA driver’s license
b. A valid PA CDL learner’s permit
c. A valid physicians certificate (DL 742)
d. A valid school bus training Certificate of Completion (DL 713)
e. Current registration card for the bus
f. Valid insurance card for the bus
g. Valid drivers license for person accompanying you on the test

6. Complete PA Child Abuse History Clearance (Act 151) and send with $10.00 Money Order. (Eshelman Transportation will need a copy of this when you receive it)

7. Complete request for Criminal Record Check (Act 34) and send with $10.00 Money Order. (Eshelman Transportation will need a copy of this when you receive it)

8. You will need to take a pre-employment drug test. (Kit provide by Eshelman Transportation or NovaCare)

9. You will need to be finger printed for FBI clearance.

10. After you pass your skills test to drive bus, you will receive and sign an employee handbook and drug testing permission paper.

ray said said...

post 851 yes I am mechanic of 6o years. I can fix about any car, truck, or bus gas or diesel engines so you are one who knows it all I don't talk it I do it. I have a class 4 inspection license, which I have over six years, just because I said I was a bus driver dose not mean that don't know what I say. if you to meet me I will be at the June meeting. I am not afraid to show my face, I am proud of my work.

ray said said...

corrosion poster9.40 inspection license hold for sixty years not six years my mistakes but I don't make to many at my age, and still work every day

Anonymous said...

I think once you're in the public eye, whether you're a boss, a teacher or whatever you do, that you're automatically in the position of role model. You have people looking up to you, so whether you choose to accept it or not is a different question.

Anonymous said...

Saturday, May 31, 2014 at 8:11:00 PM EDT.. he is one of dan drivers going by a fack name

ray said said...

poster 1037 no I am not a driver and my name is ray work for myself repair cars, trucks, buses, tractors bulldozers, many other gas or diesel power things, I am not a part changer I fix the thing that can be repair I am from the old school of hard knox

Anonymous said...

call buffalo 4 news and see what they have to say they will look in to all this..

Anonymous said...

WOW,Post 1:13, if you don't live here, I suggest you keep your nose out & tend to the problems in your own town & school. People like you just like trouble! WOW, I'm glad you live in that PERFECT town & PERFECT school you have! WOW!!!!!

Anonymous said...

happy that we do home schooling

Anonymous said...

sounds like me school should be shut down..and for one the unqualified to operate a school bus was his aunt rox alot of us need to stick together on this case..i know of two people that need to come fww on bollhorst..that don't work for him no more

Anonymous said...

I am a concerned parent in Austin but am just appalled at reading these comments. It is amazing how twisted and destorted things become when you get people fired up! This is a serious matter and our focus should be on THIS particular matter. Comments about student affairs with teachers?.....Do you know the REAL story or the hear say going around. The superintendent/principal/guidance counselor getting two pay checks?.....again do you have all the facts or know what the job(s) entail? Maybe attending a school board meeting and voices concerns would be a better approach rather than the Solomon's words bashing! No one wants to be part of the solution but are right there to jump in on the bashing session. I am personally very pleased with my children education (look at Austin's tests scores compared to other school in the area) but currently given the transportation issues choose alternative means at this time. Parents get off Solomon's and join together with the FACTS to improve our children's safety to and from school!

Anonymous said...

My Children attend Austin School. I have witnessed 12+ kids piling into a rusted out "yellow school van" I was so shocked by this that I even took a picture.

Hats off to Ms. Smoker for standing up and saying something. No one else had the guts to. Why don't they just do away with the buses 85% of families that live here don't work they could take their kids to school like alot of us have to.

Anonymous said...

This whole blog really upsets me. My child attends this school also. Rust, bad gas, busses that don't run properly, citations for busses, the school board, the teachers, the borough, etc. Granted, there are problems within our community, but why push it to the whole world. It just makes all of us look bad, like we can't deal with it on our own. Many towns and school districts are in the same or similar situations that we are. To 8:07: Why do 85% of us not work? We should be. Most of us do work by the way. Most of us do have financial difficulties. And probably a number of us do have rust on our vehicles. Fortunately, our vehicle do pass inspections.

Anonymous said...

I am ashamed at some of the comments on here.
I am a student at Austin School, and obviously, that does not make me an adult, so I may or may not be out of line when I say that we, the students, the "kids" are handling this better than any of the "adults" posting these shameful and completely uneducated, irrational, and grammatically incorrect comments! I ride the bus every day of my life, and though it's bad, I don't complain. It's funny that people who have probably never ridden one a day in their life find the need to spew comments like they've actually experienced what it is like. You are ADULTS, act like them! Of course, we are all American and we all have freedom of speech/expression, I am not denying you the right to comment and share your opinion, but if you do so, at least make sure you're not ranting about unproven facts and incorrect statements. It also would help your arguments if you spell things correctly. Pointing out the School Board Directly isn't right, either. If you think that's the case, why don't YOU join the school board, since you seem to know all about it. I'm sure they could use you.
I am ashamed at how Austin, a good, little town and an amazing school, is being presented to the rest of the world.
Fools.

Anonymous said...

Best thing to do is shut the school down and let the kids go to coudy.