Beaufort News

Beaufort County schools to cut ties with private bus company

The Beaufort County School Board voted Friday to end the school district’s relationship with the private bus transportation provider Durham School Services.

The district will take over supervision of bus operations beginning July 1, ending a 20-year stretch during which the county used a series of private companies to supplement its bus services, according to a district release.

Durham School Services’ bid to extend its contract for the 2016-17 school year was $6.5 million, a $900,000 increase over the current agreement.

District Superintendent Jeff Moss told school board members Friday that he is “confident that the district would provide improved bus service ... at a lower cost,” the release said.

Durham, which has contracted with the district since 2010, has faced criticism regarding both the company’s drivers and its fleet from school officials and parents.

In 2013, Beaufort County bus-driver union members accused the company of using unsafe buses.

A year later, the Port Royal Police Department investigated allegations that a Durham bus driver assaulted a Riverview Charter School kindergarten student. Police ultimately determined no crime was committed.

Last year, the Bluffton Police Department released video footage from a Durham bus that appeared to show the driver hitting 4-year-old special-needs child in the face.

Of the 190 buses used by county students, the state provides 149. Durham owns the remainder.

The district will “lease an undetermined number of buses” to make up for the loss of Durham’s buses, the release said.

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