POTTSTOWN PA – Legally separated parents of a public school student who live in the same school district and share physical custody of their child may be in a position to demand the district provide bus transportation from either – not just one – of their homes when necessary, under a Pennsylvania Common Court ruling issued last week (Jan. 7, 2014).
The case, Watts v. Manheim Township School District, “is potentially costly news to school districts trying to save money on busing,” according to a Blue Bell PA-based attorney who spent several years providing legal advice to the Pottsgrove School District.
A. Kyle Berman, a lawyer with Fox Rothschild LLP, represented Pottsgrove as its solicitor for several years. Berman, who now works with other districts, wrote an article describing the Watts case Wednesday (Jan. 15) for the Fox Rothschild education blog.
The ruling in Watts “clearly allows anyone in the same situation as the Watts family to demand that their district consider multiple bus stops. But it is not clear whether someone with less than 50 percent custody can make that same demand. A district would be well served to review all the facts and options with its solicitor prior to deciding that issue one way or another,” Berman wrote.
Watts is based in part on an earlier case, Wyland v. West Shore School District. In it the court found that, at least for transportation purposes, a student may have more than one residence necessitating more than one bus stop, Berman noted.
He added that the Manheim district “may still ask for the whole Commonwealth Court to re-hear the matter, and it may ask the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to take the matter on appeal.” Manheim, in Lancaster County, is 57 miles southwest of Pottstown.
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