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Busing Handicapped

September 25, 1988

Re bus transportation for handicapped students:

Your editorial of Sept. 18 described an "inexcusable failure to communicate" to the public and the Orange County Board of Education.

On Sept. 12, the Durham Bus Co. operated only half of the bus routes serving our handicapped students, for which they were responsible. Rather than meet their contractual obligations, Durham assigned many drivers from our contract to a new, more profitable contract that Durham was just starting, with the Santa Ana Unified School District.

Not until after 10 a.m. Sept. 12 did I learn that Durham was not providing their contracted service. Immediately, department staff began strenuous efforts to minimize the problems Durham was causing students, parents and teachers.

By late evening that same day, more than 300 phone contacts were made that resulted in many students being transported by parents, other bus companies and school districts on Tuesday. Thanks to this wonderful cooperation, the attendance Tuesday was close to normal.

Board members were informed of this stopgap arrangement as soon as it was evident that a considerable number of the students would be transported by means other than Durham buses.

According to the minutes and tape recordings of the Board of Education meetings, the board was provided with information and update as new developments were learned by staff.

During the 10 months preceeding the sudden and unannounced contract rupture, various board members were in direct contact from time to time with Larry Durham, owner of the bus company. Your statement that the board had no "inkling of the potential problem" is not accurate.

ROBERT PETERSON

Orange County Superintendent

of Schools

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