Local News

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 15: Students walk to board a school bus in Manhattan's East Village on January 15, 2013 in New York City. Drivers of the city's school buses are set to go on strike tomorrow after negotiations with Mayor Michael Bloomberg failed to reach an agreement; over 150,000 children will need to find an alternate method of transportation to school.

A New Jersey school district is offering to pay parents to get their child to school. This is an option offered to those who don’t want to have their child ride with American Star Transportation. That’s a bus company that has been accused of hiring unqualified drivers. As a result, Paterson school district is offering parents $5.67 per day to drop their kids off at school.

The North Jersey school district made that offer to about 410 families whose children are bused on routes covered by American Star Transportation, NorthJersey.com. According to the report, no parents have taken the district up on its offer.

American Star’s owner, Juel Khalique, was arrested last December. He was arrested on charges of using drivers with criminal backgrounds or lacking credentials to operate school buses. The charges in that case are currently pending. The company’s manager, Henry Rhodes, pleaded guilty to a similar accusation involving unqualified drivers in early March.

“We are writing to inform you that we are aware of the criminal charges that have been brought against the student transportation company, American Star,” Paterson’s school district wrote in a March 24 letter to parents. “We understand that this news may be concerning to many of you, and we want to assure you that the safety of our students is our top priority.”

It was concerning to board members that parents did not take the school district up on its offer. However, the Board of Education president offered a possible reason.

“It might be because some parents don’t have the transportation means to get their children to school,” said Nakima Redmon.

While Redmon’s argument might be the case, school board member Valerie Freeman said that the district will no longer work with American Star. She says that the alleged behavior of their drivers puts children in danger.

“I’m not comfortable with them transporting our children,” Freeman said. “I don’t trust them.”

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