PEEKSKILL, N.Y. – The Peekskill City School District wants the driver responsible for Thursday’s accident that sent 20 students to the hospital removed from district routes.
Superintendent James Willis said the district plans to demand that Joquain Sherwood of Mile Square Transportation not be allowed to drive Peekskill students to or from city schools after failing to alert emergency responders of the accident and trying to cover up the incident.
Police said Sherwood reported the incident that occurred on the way to Hillcrest Elementary School to his dispatcher but that dispatch was never reported to police, a violation of Department of Transportation laws. Sherwood also told the children not to tell anyone about the accident.
The lack of communication led to confusion when the district did find out what happened, Willis said.
“Twenty students were on the bus when the accident happened but they picked up another 37 along the way,” Willis said. “We didn’t know how many students were involved because 57 students got off the bus.”
Sherwood has been charged with endangering the welfare of a minor, a misdemeanor, and leaving the scene of a personal injury automobile accident, also a misdemeanor. He was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court Nov. 21.
All 20 students were taken to Hudson Valley Hospital Center. None of the students involved is believed to have suffered serious injuries.
Willis said that the district would also fine Mile Square Transportation for not following the law as laid out in their contract. He said the district and the transportation company are both insured to cover accidents but in this case the district would seek liability from Mile Square in the event of a lawsuit.
Mile Square Transportation has been serving the district for about 12 years and their latest contract will expire in 2012, according to district Transportation Director Carmine Crisci.
“We’ve had no major issues with them, but yesterday they dropped the ball in several different ways,” Crisci said.
All bus drivers undergo drug testing, fingerprinting and background checks as required by the state and federal departments of transportation and are also randomly drug tested by the state Department of Transportation, Crisci said.
Calls to Mile Square Transportation for comment were not returned.