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Comments From School District on Outsourcing Transportation Debacle

The following is an updated report on the lawsuit filed by the district’s support personnel bargaining unit relating to the district’s outsourcing of its public school student transportation operations effective July 1, 2005 and the Order issued by PERB pursuant to this lawsuit on October 16, 2006.

On April 23, 2009, the Manhasset Board of Education received the Appellate Division decision regarding the school district’s appeal of the PERB Order. PERB had ordered the district to:

“Cease and desist from unilaterally transferring to nonunit employees the work of employees of the unit represented by MESPA [Manhasset Educational Support Personnel Association] consisting of the transporting of students from home to public school, to athletic and field events, and summer school, and the work of ground equipment maintenance and repair services.”

While the court upheld the PERB Order, it found that enforcement of the PERB Order was “unreasonable” in that:

“PERB’s order requires petitioner to restore the personnel and facilities of its former transportation department. Because petitioner has already sold its buses and leased its garage, compliance with the order may require taxpayer approval, which may or may not be forthcoming, and could be delayed by petitioner’s contractual obligations. Under these unique circumstances, we find that enforcement of the current order is unreasonable and we remit the matter to PERB to fashion a remedy that will allow for the contingencies that could prevent petitioner’s compliance.”

On July 23, 2009, PERB modified its remedial order acknowledging:

“The possible need for taxpayer approval for the purchase of buses to enable the district to restore the at-issue work and the district’s current contractual obligations with respect to that work” and ordered “in the event that restoration of the unit work to unit employees is impossible due to taxpayer disapproval of the purchase of buses and other equipment necessary to restore the unit work, make comparable work available to all displaced unit members…”

Accordingly, the board intends to submit a proposition to the voters of the school district on the restoration of a school district-provided transportation system. The board anticipates that this vote will take place late in 2009 or early in 2010.

In addition, the board directed its attorney to contact the bargaining unit, pursuant to paragraph 6 of the PERB Order, seeking to negotiate with MESPA in good faith concerning certain other terms and conditions of the Order, including back wages and benefits and work for displaced unit members.

Current transportation operations are not and will not be affected by these matters. All current school bus routes will be in operation during the entire school year.

(Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles on the ongoing litigation resulting from the Manhasset School District’s decision in 2005, following the passing of Proposition #3, to outsource the district’s transportation.)