Dayton Public Schools reaches settlement for busing, won’t face fine

State agrees to return more than $100,000 it took in fines.



Dayton Public Schools has reached a settlement after suing the Ohio Department of Education for taking away $107,461 in money the state gives local districts to help with busing, after multiple charter and private schools accused the school district of not getting their students to school on time.

Dayton Public won’t have to pay any additional fines and the department, now the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce, will return the $107,461 that it already took back. (ODE changed its name to ODEW last fall.)

Dayton faced a fine of $752,233.04 and an additional fine of $1.4 million if the lawsuit had settled not in their favor.

The board of education has not yet voted to accept the settlement. It was discussed Tuesday during the school board’s meeting.

The Ohio Department of Education and Workforce said it does not comment on settlement actions before they are finalized.

Dayton Public assistant treasurer Amit Gautam said the returned money would go into the district’s general fund, rather than going to transportation, because the district already paid for last year’s transportation out of the general fund.

“The money’s already been spent, and then they took the money back so we’re just getting the money they took from us from last year.” Gautam said.

Several local charter and private schools said in fall semester 2022, from August to December, that buses were late bringing their students to school and picking them up, sometimes by hours, according to documents submitted to the Ohio Department of Education.

Under Ohio law, the public schools required to bus students to and from private and charter schools can pick up and drop off students up to 30 minutes after a bell.

Last year, state lawmakers changed the law to put harsher fines on districts who failed to get charter and parochial school students to school on time. DPS currently buses 3,028 charter and parochial school kids to school every day, and about 4,548 DPS kids, to 51 different schools including DPS, charter and parochial schools.

DPS sued ODE in Franklin County civil court over the ruling, saying ODE never took the necessary steps to create the rules over which it fined DPS.

Five schools where many Dayton students attend said Dayton Public buses were late picking up and dropping off students. Those schools included Ascension Catholic School in Kettering and charters Dayton Leadership Academy, Trotwood Preparatory and Fitness Academy, Horizon Science Academy and Pathway School of Discovery.

Tess Mitchner Asinjo, executive director, said she didn’t have any opinion on the settlement, but said the charter school was filling out the forms in 2022 because that is what ODE and the Fordham Foundation, which sponsors the school, told them to do. She said the missed buses were frustrating to the charter’s families and the teachers whose students were arrive to school late.

“We were following the protocol from the Department of Education,” she said.

Several school said Dayton Public buses had consistently not shown up on time.

“I am not sure they know what a transportation plan is,” Ascension Catholic School wrote on their formal complaint to the state about DPS busing on Nov. 15, 2022. “The Catholic schools in the area are having a lot of problems.”

ODE’s Office of Field Services and Pupil Transportation investigated the complaints and interviewed the schools and DPS, along with reviewing documents.

The most common issues DPS cited in the ODE documents for why they couldn’t get students to school was the driver shortage and the many different bell schedules at each school.

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