Teacher and bus driver union officials have sued the Cherry Hill, Colorado district in order to keep disciplinary records hidden. The local 9News tv station requested the records after there have been more than 15, 000 school bus accidents in the past 5 years. Kevin Vaughn has the story on KUSA 9News Online.
As part of its examination of more than 1,500 school bus wrecks reported in Colorado since 2011, 9Wants To Know had sought disciplinary records for drivers from 21 districts who were involved in crashes that were deemed by police to be their fault and that resulted in injuries.
The Cherry Creek School District was one of four that refused to release those records.
After attorney Steve Zansberg appealed on behalf of 9NEWS, district administrators relented this week and decided to release the records. However, the Cherry Creek Transportation Employees Association, which represents bus drivers, and the Cherry Creek Education Association, which represents teachers, sued the district to block the release.
The unions contend that the records in question are barred from release by a section of state law that deems “personnel files” closed to the public. The employees in question “have legitimate expectations of privacy in their personnel records,” attorney Sharyn E. Dreyer wrote in the complaint.
Zansberg argued, however, that multiple court rulings make it clear that disciplinary records are not subjected to the personnel files exception in the Colorado Open Records Act and therefore must be released.
The 9Wants To Know investigation was carried out after two frightening school bus crashes in late 2015 – one outside Durango, the other outside Lyons – that both resulted in multiple injuries. In the Durango crash, investigators concluded that the driver was distracted as he reached for a whistle to quiet rowdy students. In the Lyons wreck, prosecutors have alleged the bus driver was under the influence of multiple prescription drugs.
Both buses went off the road and rolled over.