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School Buses and Custody: Know Your Rights

Written by Jamie Jamison Friday, August 25 2017 10:15

With the start of the school year quickly approaching, parents who exercise shared physical custody of their child(ren) and who reside in the same school district can rest assured that the school district must provide free transportation for their child(ren) to and from each parent’s respective residence. 

In Watts v. Manheim Township School District, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the Commonwealth Court ruling requiring school districts to transport students to and from the residences of each parent if they are separated or divorced and sharing physical custody.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court was asked to determine whether the Public School Code “mandates that a school district provide free transportation to a student from two different residences where the student’s parents share physical custody of the student and both parents reside within the school district.”

The parties in Watts exercised shared legal and physical custody of their child on an alternating weekly basis pursuant to a Court Order.  Both parties resided within the school district where their child attended school, but along different school district bus routes.  Father’s residence was located approximately 4.5 miles from the school and Mother’s residence was located approximately 5.5 miles from the school. 

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined the following: the school district owes a duty of transportation to the student residing within the school district as a “resident pupil”; the student has two residences for enrollment purposes when the parents exercise shared physical custody of the student; the school district’s duty of transportation includes transportation to and from more than one location within the school district when the student has two residences within the school district; and the purpose of having the school district provide free transportation services to the student is to help facilitate school attendance.

Knowing your rights with regard to school bus transportation and custody can alleviate some of the stress and anxiety you may otherwise experience as your child(ren) return to school.

Earlier this year, amendments to Pennsylvania’s statutes governing partnerships and limited liability companies (often referred to as unincorporated entities or alternative entities) went into effect. I recently blogged about the “transferable interest” concept adopted by the Act. Today, in Part 2 of this series, I highlight another significant change brought about by Act 170: the clarification of the fiduciary and other duties owed in the context of an unincorporated entity. In general, there are three basic duties:

• Duty of loyalty: generally, a duty to avoid self-dealing, competing and usurping company or partnership opportunities
• Duty of care: a duty to refrain from gross negligence and recklessness
• Duty of good faith and fair dealing: a duty to deal fairly and consistently with the terms of the parties’ agreement and the purpose of the entity

In a general partnership, each partner owes the above duties to each of the other partners and to the entity.

In a limited partnership: (a) the general partner owes each of these duties to the limited partners and to the partnership; and (b) the limited partners owe only a duty of good faith and fair dealing to each other.

In a manager-managed LLC: (a) the manager owes these duties to the members and to the entity; and (b) the members owe a duty of good faith and fair dealing to each other. In a member-managed LLC, the members owe these duties to each other and the company.

Some of these duties may be modified by agreement of the parties. In their operating or partnership agreement, the parties may modify, but not eliminate, the duty of loyalty and the duty of care, as long as the modification is not “manifestly unreasonable.” This standard is not defined and is left to the courts to interpret, but in general the agreement cannot convert the relationship into a strictly arm’s length relationship. The duty of good faith and fair dealing may not be modified or removed, but the owners’ agreement can identify the standards by which this duty will be measured.

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