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Keyword Index

RC Kelly Law Associates’ Legal Focus…on School Bus Keyword Index 

The School Bus Keyword Index linked above is a valuable tool to utilize when searching articles and information relevant to the student transportation industry. If you are interested in obtaining a copy of an article or would like permission to re-print an article in your publication, you may contact RC Kelly Law Associates at 215-896-3846 or help@rckelly.com.

Articles
20

Homeless student transportation is an ongoing issue for many school districts.  It is especially problematic if the student’s drop off location changes multiple times throughout the school year. The costs of transporting a single student outside of typical routes can be costly. Fortunately, the federal government created the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 (“McKinney-Vento”), as a way to provide funding to help pay for the school transportation needs of homeless students. This article outlines what contractors need to know when it comes to transporting students under the McKinney-Vento Act.

 

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01

What is your retirement plan? At this year’s PSBA Annual Convention at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center, Rich Kelly presented a workshop discussing Succession Planning. If you were unable to attend Rich’s presentation, this article to reviews what you need to know about planning to transition your business from one generation to the next and other ways your business can fund your retirement. 

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20
The Pennsylvania Storage Tank and Spill Prevention Act (STSPA) requires owners and operators of Underground Storage Tanks (USTs) to comply with testing and inspections, ensuring no contaminants are released from their USTs. If owners or operators of USTs fail to comply with the requirements, they may be punished civilly under 35 P.S. §6021.1307, or criminally under 35 P.S. § 6021.1306. Civil penalties may be assessed up to $10,000 per day for each violation. 35 P.S. § 6021.1307 (a).  This article provides information about the inspections and training required by Pennsylvania law if you own or operate a UST.

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22

Many school bus contractors house small above-ground fuel tanks on their property. However, not all contractors are aware of their state’s fuel-tank maintenance requirements. Above-ground storage tanks (ASTs) holding less than 21,000 gallons require management by way of inspections or monitoring on a periodic basis. This article discusses the major requirements mandated by state law, so your small tanks remain compliant and you avoid severe penalties. 

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20

How school bus contractors respond when a student acts out on the school bus is a balancing act of knowledge, training, and consistency.  School bus contractors are obligated to keep all students safe, and are mandated by state and federal laws to provide a safe environment on the school bus. Parents and school administrators have different concerns and legal obligations than do school bus contractors. Often, this makes it difficult for all three parties to see eye-to-eye, which increases the need for contractors to have clearly communicated and consistently applied policies.  

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21
School Bus Contractors are well aware of the issues of diesel emissions and carbon footprints left behind by diesel motors. Government regulations and transportation agreements have evolved to ensure aging, environmentally hazardous, and inefficient vehicles are replaced with fleets equipped with the latest technology to minimize diesel emissions. Fleet replacement plans are a constant balancing act of contract compliance, vehicle efficiency, and costs. The Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. §7401 et seq. (1970) along with the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) may have paved the way for mandated emissions compliance; but they may also provide a means to that end.

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24
Living in a diverse country such as America, we encounter people with many and varying religious practices. Currently, state and federal laws require employers to make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s religious practices. But, can an employer or the state DMV require a person to remove religious headwear or face coverings for a driver’s license photo or employee ID badge? Below you will find a discussion of laws related to the removal of religious headwear or face coverings for a driver’s license or ID photograph in the state of Pennsylvania.

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02
The legal environment for the school bus industry was active in 2016. For a summary of the most talked about legal topics of the past year, contact RC Kelly Law Associates for our article titled "Legal Updates for School Bus Contractors The 2016 Year in Review"

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15
Negotiating a merger or acquisition is challenging because the buyer and seller often have opposing goals. A critical component of these transactions is the exposure to unknown risks and liabilities. However, insurance policies may help to align the goals of both parties and reduce the risks. It has become increasingly popular for companies acquiring others to purchase Representation and Warranty Insurance (RWI). This RWI provides benefits to both buyers and sellers including reducing the amount of negotiation required and speeding up the transaction time, while giving buyers an extra level of confidence in the information they are receiving and their ability to make successful claims later.

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04
Recently, Pennsylvania state authorities have provided conflicting direction on whether school bus videos must be produced when a copy is requested by a parent or other third party.  This article will discuss the conflicting positions and provide practical guidance for contractors.

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11
In August 2016, House Bill (HB) 2274 was introduced into the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. The proposed legislation would require school districts to utilize a Request for Proposal (RFP) process when awarding transportation contracts and the contracts would automatically expire every 2-3 years.

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25
On August 2, 2016, the Treasury Department released a proposal to modify the tax regulations for  transferring interests in family owned corporations, partnerships, LLCs and family farms. If the proposed regulations are approved in their current form, the transfer tax cost of transferring interests in a corporation to family members will increase significantly.

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24
The General Duties Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), says that “[e]ach employer shall furnish … employees … a place of employment … free from recognized hazards that are … likely to cause … serious physical harm to … employees”. 29 U.S.C. § 654, 5(a). Recently, OSHA fined a York, PA healthcare provider $98,000 because OSHA found that the employer did not properly respond to an employee’s request for help with treating violent patients. This article will discuss what to do when your driver or aide makes you aware of an on going risk of injury from violence on the school bus.

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20
On May 12, 2016 OSHA published a final rule on reporting workplace injuries and illnesses that affects most school bus contractors. The OSHA final rule requires employers in certain industries to electronically submit the safety information which they are already required to collect and keep manually. Now, OSHA will post this information on its publicly accessible website.

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01
On April 17, 2016 Governor Tom Wolf signed the medical marijuana bill (Pennsylvania Senate Bill 3) into law, making Pennsylvania the 24th state in the union to legalize the drug for medicinal purposes. According to the law, there are 17 conditions for which marijuana could be used to treat, ranging from chronic pain to epilepsy to cancer. The law will allow up to 25 growers/processors and up to 150 dispensary locations. Because these new enterprises must go through rigorous steps to establish their businesses in Pennsylvania, and doctors must complete training and education programs, it could take two years before retailers are open for business.

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04
Who is hourly and who is salary in your organization? That could all change soon. In July, 2015 the Department of Labor (DOL) gave notice of a proposed rule making that would increase the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) minimum salary threshold for employee exemptions from overtime protections. The proposed change is dramatic enough to affect 5 million workers and require most employers to restructure the nature of jobs and their workforce to comply with the Act. The changes are expected to be passed in 2016. Are you ready?

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06

The Federal District Court in Pennsylvania recently confirmed that drivers, aides, and schools are held to a heightened duty or standard of care when transporting special needs students because such students are more vulnerable to harm. The recent case of K.M. v Chichester School District, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16416, explained that a bus driver’s and aide’s error in leaving an autistic child on the bus at the end of a run and the related lack of appropriate training and policies amounted to “deliberate indifference”.  Request this article today by emailing help@rckelly.com to read the details of the Court’s findings regarding the claim presented by the parents and the student.

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02

IRS Notice 2015-87 was published recently stating that the IRS is considering new rules that will apply to school bus contractors. The new rules will change the methods of calculating which employees are “full time” and will result in more school bus contractors being required to comply with the Affordable Care Act by offering healthcare coverage to its employees. You should know about the proposed new rule and voice your opinion when the IRS seeks public comments.

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04

There are several regulations that govern the transportation of students to and from school, including the general requirements of school buses (75 PA C S 4552), equipment and safety requirements for school buses (67 PA Code 171), and general requirements for other vehicles transporting school children (75 PA C S 4553). All school bus contractors must comply with these regulations as well as others. However, a recent case (CBM Ministries of S Cent Pa, Inc. v Pa DOT) implies that these requirements may not apply to all entities that transport students.

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07
School Boards are responsible for making decisions about bus stop locations and student walking routes, but they often delegate these duties to their contractors. Some bus stop locations and walking routes are easy to evaluate, but some may be more complicated and require assistance to make a determination about safety issues. Fortunately, Pennsylvania law, 67 Pa. Code 447.1, provides guidelines for determining if a walking route is safe, and a PennDOT Traffic Unit that is available to assist in evaluating bus stops and making safety determinations.

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08

A new statute, Pennsylvania (24 P.S. 14-1414.2) became effective in January 2015 addressing a school’s administration of EpiPens. As a result many schools are reviewing EpiPen handling expectations with their contractors. In some cases, there is confusion about exactly what the new statute means and how it interacts with an older Pennsylvania statute (42 Pa. C.S. 8337.1) that provides civil immunity in some situations to certain people who render emergency care. This article provides information and insight on these evolving rules.

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18
All employers worry when they receive a call asking for information about a former employee. In fact, many employers will only give the dates of employment and position last held. But under Act 168, some employers are required to answer in more detail. Fortunately, Pennsylvania law protects employers who disclose truthful, documented information about a current or former employee’s job performance to a prospective employer. Important details follow.

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08

While a school bus operation can be audited by many regulatory agencies in regards to their employee files, Department of Transportation (DOT), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), OSHA, EEOC, Department of Education (DPE), Department of Labor (DOL), and Department of Human Services (DHS), just to name a few; we are going to concentrate on the two major entities as it relates to school bus operations in this article, DOT and DPE.  A driver’s qualification file review from DOT and DPE would cover the following four categories - commercial driver's licenses (CDL), driver qualification, drug and alcohol testing, and background clearances.

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15
On July 1, 2015 House Bill 1276 was passed and signed into law as Act 15 of 2015 updating the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) regarding the timing and portability of background checks for employees who have direct contact with children. This amendment to the CPSL makes important changes to coordinate with Pennsylvania’s Public School Code of 1949.

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21
Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law (CPSL), 55 Pa. Code § 3490, et seq., was enacted to protect abused children and preserve/stabilize families by alerting appropriate law enforcement agencies to investigate and respond to suspected child abuse.  The law requires that “Required Reporters” act to inform law enforcement of suspected child abuse and prioritizes law enforcement’s response to best protect children at risk.

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25
Many school bus contractors have called our offices with questions about news articles announcing that after January 30, 2015, CDL holders will no longer need to carry a federal medical examiner’s certificate. This article will provide you with the background information regarding this announcement and current status of the FMCSA rule.

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07

On December 12, 2014, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued its Final Rule to Modernize Representation-Case Procedures, sometimes referred to as the “ambush election” Rules, which govern the procedures for union representation elections. The new rules go into effect on April 14, 2015.  Read more about what this new rule means, if your company is a target for unionization and what you as an employer should do. 

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10

On October 22, 2014 Governor Corbett signed HB 435 of 2103, as amended, into law as Act153. This amendment to Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law, 23 Pa.C.S. § 6301, et seq, (CPSL) expands background clearance requirements to include volunteers who will have contact with children (among other changes applicable to adoptive/ foster parents).

Volunteer clearances are required by July 15, 2015 but the new law does not explicitly define the “employers, administrators, supervisors, or other person responsible for selection of volunteers” who must complete background clearances of volunteers. So, it is important for employers to learn about the law’s requirements and be careful to consider compliance issues when volunteers are involved. This article includes the information about the changes to the Child Protective Services Law, grounds for disqualifying a volunteer applicant, and more information on what you as an employer should know.

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12

Creating and following a Fitness for Duty program at your company can help you identify workers who should not be behind the wheel, turning a wrench, assisting a patient or simply working at a computer. In doing so, you can protect your employees from injury – and your company from your next claim. Included in this article is information regarding Fitness for Duty Programs, employment laws to keep in mind and the components to include in your own Fitness for Duty program. RC Kelly Law Associates has helped create compliant Fitness for Duty Programs and assist employers with specific employee events surrounding fitness for duty issues which often is coupled with other employment law risks. For more information call 215-896-3846 or email help@rckelly.com

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17

What does the next generation of your company look like?  Who will carry on when retirement comes, ready or not!  These are the important questions that need to be asked when Succession Planning.  Included in this article is information regarding what Succession Planning really is, how to start and the steps you need to take to begin your Succession Planning today.

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17

Unauthorized school bus entry is a crime in Pennsylvania. Understanding your rights will help keep your drivers, aides and students safe. This article will provide an overview of Pennsylvania’s unauthorized bus entry statute, 18 Pa.C.S. § 5571, and will provide practical guidance you can share with your drivers.

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08

The 2013 Hours of Service Federal Regulations have been making a buzz in the school bus industry recently and have sparked some important questions and concerns. Are school bus drivers on activity runs required by state or federal laws to keep a Record of on Duty Status (RODS) log? This article will provide an overview of the Hours-of-Service Safety Regulations, the Record of on Duty Status (RODS) log requirement, who is exempted from RODS, and what you as a contractor should do.

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03

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended prohibits employment discrimination and retaliation by employers against employees who file claims. Recently, retaliation claims have surpassed all other types of claims made by employees to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). While the EEOC guidance manual has not permitted employers to avoid claims of retaliation by the employer’s showing that there were other legitimate reasons for adverse action against an employee, the United States Supreme Court, for the second time in 2013, has held that the EEOC’s published guidance is wrong.

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21

Many businesses have started Facebook and LinkedIn pages as part of their marketing campaigns and a recent 2013 CareerBuilder.com survey reports that 39% of employers search social networking sites to screen job applicants. Whether on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or personal blogs, social networking on the internet is a quickly evolving business risk.  The attached article outlines the risks of using social networks and how to protect you and your business.

 

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27

As Fall and Winter breaks approach you may be asked to accept a student volunteer to help with a senior project, someone interested in building their resume over their last year of college, or an un-employed individual looking to stay current in their field. For those of you who regularly engage volunteers, this may be a good time to double check your practices and review your paperwork. Our research and suggestions follow The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) defines employment very broadly, i.e., "to suffer or permit to work." However, the Supreme Court has made it clear that the FLSA was not intended "to stamp all persons as employees who with-out any express or implied compen-sation agreement might work for their own advantage on the premises of another."

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21

Under Title VII, an employer can be strictly liable for workplace harassment if the victim’s harasser is a supervisor; but what is the difference between an employee and a supervisor? Below you will find information about Title VII, the recent case of Vance v. Ball State University 646 F.3d 461 (2013), and how you as a contractor can protect your staff and your business through education.

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31

Whether you are a small or large business owner, an HR professional, or an employee, it is important to understand the basics of Employment Law. Employment laws are in place to ensure that the workplace you provide, or are a part of, is safe and fair. This article covers general information on Equal Opportunity Employment Laws and reviews the regulations under the domain of the Equal Opportunity Commission.

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31
Personnel Records play an important role in how we manage our staff and our business.  Proper recordkeeping and documentation provides business owners with the support, tools, and proof that they need to insure good employee management and prove compliance with the law.   Many questions are raised about what should be kept, how long and who should have access to certain information.   It would be good to review your record keeping practices to insure you are in the best position to answer questions and provide the appropriate information when asked. Many personnel fi...

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28
Employers invest significant amounts of time and money in specialized training for prospective and existing employees. When the employee uses their newly acquired knowledge, skill, or credentials for the benefit of the company, the in-vestment pays off. But, if the employee leaves shortly after the training, or never joins the company, the investment is lost. This article provides some insight and suggestions that will help employers avoid losing the value of their investment in specialized training. It is written assuming that the training provided is a program that will allow students to bec...

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06
The Employee Handbook and Procedure Manual serve two distinct purposes. The employee handbook is an important opportunity to ensure employees understand the company’s expectations and where to find general information. It is essential for the employer to put things in writing to add clarity and unity of purpose to the company mission and philosophy. The employee handbook is best written using a straightforward language and organized for easy referencing of company policies. It is an important tool for familiarizing employees with basic company policies and benefit programs, as well as ...

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20
Many school bus contractors are faced with the Pennsylvania wiretap law dilemma. That is, school districts contractually or informally require video and audio taping on school buses for the purpose of enhancing student safety and addressing student discipline issues. But, audio taping is prohibited by Pennsylvania statutes and case law. The current statutes even impose criminal and civil penalties for violators. School officials point to specific examples of local law enforcement’s refusal to prosecute violations. But the isolated opinions of local lawmakers do not carry the force of law...

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20
As you know, Pennsylvania school bus drivers working for independent contractors are currently eligible to receive unemployment compensation benefits during the summer break while drivers employed by a school district are not. The reason is because Article IV, Section 402.1 of Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Compensation Law (Pa UC Law) has exceptions that apply to employees of political subdivisions like a school district but that do not apply to employees of independent contractors. On October 14, 2011 six legislators introduced HB 128 that proposes to add additional language to Section 40...

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19
Open Meetings, Right to Know, and Conflicts of Interest Questions about the fairness of the contract negotiation process with a school district or school board are common - what matters must be discussed in open meetings, what information am I entitled to receive, and what can be done to reconcile a board member’s conflict of interest? This note will briefly discuss the Pennsylvania statues that deal with open meetings, the right to information, and the ethical issue of conflicts of interest. Open Meetings – The Pennsylvania Sunshine Act Pennsylvania’s Sunshine A...

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30
Much has been written previously and elsewhere in this newsletter regarding the details of the FMCSA ruling that requires states to downgrade a commercial driver’s license (CDL) for failure to submit medical certifications and provide the DOT with information about the type of vehicle being driven (self-certification). Like most states, Pennsylvania is scrambling to implement legislation that will create the forms and processes required for this to occur. Since most states are not prepared to enforce the federal recording keeping rule, the FMCSA issued a final rule on November 15, 2011 c...

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24
Recent changes to the Pennsylvania Public School Code tightened the state’s qualifications for school bus drivers by expanding the list of disqualifying offenses and by making those convictions a lifetime ban as opposed to a short term (five year) restriction on working as a school bus driver. This article explains the changes and gives some practical advice about the Decem-ber 27, 2011 self-reporting deadline and dealing with affected drivers. List of Disqualifying Crimes Expanded and Lifetime Ban Implemented 24 P.S. § 1-111 is the Pennsylvania statute that requires criminal ...

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23
Staffing up for the start of a new school year has generated a number of inquiries about the Americans with Disabilities Act and related state laws. Following is a brief summary that provides general guidance. Each situation is unique but every situation requires proper handling and, most importantly, documentation. A. Review of the Legislation Signed into law on July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act is a wide-ranging legislation intended to make American Society more accessible to people with disabilities. The employment provision (Title 1) of the ADA applies to employer...

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31
Hiring good and reliable employees is a big challenge – good inter-view, good qualifications, clean criminal background check – uh, oh – your best candidate was con-victed of shoplifting 25 years ago, or charged with assault 10 years ago, what if the was just arrested, but not convicted… and what is a non-conviction anyway? Improper use of criminal background infor-mation in hiring decisions can make the employer liable for fines, damages, and attorney’s fees. Following is some information that can help you better understand the laws regarding employee disquali-fication for criminal conduct.

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31
According to Facebook fifty percent of their nearly half a million users login every day to share messages and photos with friends (and the rest of the world) in an informal internet setting. Many businesses have started Facebook pages as part of their marketing campaigns and a re-cent CareerBuilder.com survey reports that 45% of employers search social networking sites to screen job applicants. Whether on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or personal blogs, social net-working on the internet is a quickly evolving business risk.

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17
The parents of a Pennsylvania child are seeking damages in a civil action, from the school district and the independent school bus contractor for injuries sustained during a school bus evacuation drill. A critical review of your evacuation drill policy and procedure would be wise. Evacuation Drill Article.pdf
18
PA Court Upholds Denial of Unemployment Compensation to School Bus Driver On June 30, 2010 the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania upheld the denial of Unemployment Compensation benefits to a school bus driver who was fired for leaving children unattended on a school bus while taking care of a personal matter. A summary of the case follows along with why it is important to School Bus Operators. The case of Kraftician, v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 2010 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 367 was decided June 30, 2010.  The Employer received a complaint from a parent that the driver had st...

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11
New Federal Best Practice Guide for Selecting School Bus Stops Released Just in time for the school year to begin, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released a new guide for best practices for safer routing and selection of school bus stops. The guide was compiled with assistance from several different student transportation organizations such as the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT), National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS), National Science Teacher Association (NSTA), Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Cent...

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11
Bullies on a School Bus Convicted On August 20, 2010, a male teen was convicted of sexually harassing and terrorizing fellow school bus riders on routes in Portage Township, Indiana. Ashley Toney, who is now 18 years old, was charged and tried as an adult for bullying that occurred during much of the 2008-2009 school year. In total, there were six charges brought against Toney; three charges for sexual battery, one charge for felony criminal confinement, one charge for public indecency, and one charge for criminal recklessness. The situations that brought these charges ranged from lighting...

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11
Recent PA Court Decision Explains Denial of Unemployment Compensation On June 30, 2010 the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania upheld the denial of Unemployment Compensation benefits to a school bus driver who was fired for leaving children unattended on a school bus while taking care of a personal matter.  A summary of the case follows.      The case of Kraftician, v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 2010 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 367 was decided June 30, 2010.  The Employer received a complaint from a parent that the driver had stopped and left the schoo...

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10
The New Construction Workplace Fraud Act Raises Scrutiny Over the Classification of Employees and Independent Contractors What is the Construction Workplace Fraud Act? On October 13, 2010 Governor Ed Rendell signed House Bill 400 into law officially enacting the “Construction Workplace Fraud Act.” This new law was created in response to complaints that employers in the construction industry are improperly classifying employees as independent contractors in order to avoid the taxes and expenses of hiring employees. Proponents alleged that such practices deprived employees of im...

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