Bus company sues Trinity over alleged conflicts of interest

December 28, 2012

A Washington bus company filed a lawsuit Thursday claiming Trinity Area School District, the school board and three of its members ignored conflicts of interest and violated state laws during the handling of transportation matters including a vote to consider extending the company’s contract.

Named as defendants in the suit filed by a Montgomeryville attorney on behalf of GG&C Bus Co. in Washington County Court are Trinity Area School District and its school board, as well as board members Sandra Clutter, Jenene Hupp and William H. Clemens.

The suit alleges Clutter, Hupp and Clemens ignored conflicts of interest that arose from their employment by an independent bus contractor and violated state laws by taking part in a Nov. 1 vote to decide whether to enter into discussion to extend the district’s existing transportation contract with GG&C or seek outside proposals.

Clutter and Hupp, who both initially abstained from voting on the matter, broke a tie by giving the nod to the latter option, according to the suit. Clemens, who also initially abstained, reportedly voted to explore extending the existing contract.

The suit claims both the board and the district failed to uphold policies and procedures regarding ethics violations.

District officials could not be reached for comment by phone or email Friday afternoon.

The suit also alleges Clutter, a former GG&C employee, displayed “severe animus” toward her former employer and encouraged others to participate in “antagonistic and harmful conduct” against the company. As examples, the suit claims board members took steps to publicize unfounded allegations of overbilling by the company as well as implement transportation polices and procedures “for no reason other than to cause harm and financial difficulty to GG&C.”

The company is requesting that the court nullify the Nov. 1 vote and grant a preliminary injunction to prevent Clutter, Hupp and Clemens from participating in and voting on transportation matters. Additionally, GG&C is seeking monetary damages in excess of $100,000.

Andy McNeil has been with the Observer-Reporter since 2011 as a general assignment reporter. He covers courts and education, and also serves as a photographer and videographer. He graduated from Pennsylvania State University, The Behrend College, with a degree in English; Duquense University with a post-baccalaureate paralegal certificate, and Point Park University with a graduate degree in journalism and mass communication.

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