Catholic school parents sue Sylvania Schools over bussing

Parents worry about buses taking kindergarten students to high schools
Published: Jul. 12, 2022 at 10:09 PM EDT
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SYLVANIA, Ohio (WTVG) - Two families have sued the Sylvania school district and its director of transportation over plans to require private school students to be bussed to a central location and switch busses before being taken to their school.

Two couples, Jeffrey and Jennifer Swiech and James and Nicole Vanderweele filed the civil lawsuit in Lucas County Court Thursday.

The suit alleges that Sylvania Schools is treating religious students differently than public school students.

The concern is also the mixing of young children riding with high schoolers.

Below is the original story 13abc ran in July:

Sylvania schools like so many districts is having trouble finding bus drivers. So this is the new, proposed plan but some parents think their kindergarteners have no place at places like Southview High School just yet.

Soon-to-be kindergarteners are getting the full tour of Saint Joseph’s school in Sylvania this week. One of them is the daughter of Nicole Vanderweel.

“They’ve been walking through where the different rooms are, the art room, where she’s going to finally have lunch in the cafeteria like a big girl,” said Vanderweele.

Getting her there will be the tricky part. In a letter to Saint Joe’s, Christ the King and Saint Benedict’s school families Sylvania Superintendent Doctor Veronica Motley says K-12 students will ride with public schools students and be dropped off at Northview or Southview high school.

Non- public kindergarteners will be riding buses with high schoolers, then transfer to a bus that will take them to their school.

“I don’t trust that that’s a safe environment for my 5 year old to get on the bus, get off the bus with who knows what supervision or supervision where I don’t know any of the people,” said Vanderweele.

“There was a time 7-8-9 years ago in Sylvania we had well over 100 bus drivers. Now we have less than 70. Doing the math it makes it quite the challenge,” said Dr. Motley.

Doctor Motley says 11 other nonpublic schools, like Emmanuel and Toledo Christian Schools, which have kindergarteners already send their kids to the high schools for bus transfer. If these new schools go, Doctor Motley says they will be monitored on the high school campuses.

“We’re prepared to hire extra staff, paraprofessionals. We’re looking at having folks that are on duty. Teachers provided extra duty pay to cover those supervisory positions in addition to our administrators,” said Dr. Motley.

“It’s likely to be dark for a significant part of the year when those kids are on the transfer. Moving young kids in a parking lot where you have large buses and many cars moving is logistically difficult,” said St. Joe’s School parent Brett Seymour.

Seymour has two elementary St. Joe’s students and two more a few years out. He’s asking for equal treatment. If Sylvania public students go from home to their building, so should private school kids.

State law does say a school board must provide transportation for kids in non public schools. What exactly that transportation looks like is the gray area.

Doctor Motley says it’s all still a proposed plan and the final details have not been approved yet. It’s important to have a decision soon because school starts for St. Joe’s kindergarteners on August 15th.

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