Alleged school bus defect left kids stranded, cost schools millions

An alleged manufacturing defect in hundreds of school buses purchased by metro Atlanta school districts has left taxpayers on the hook for expensive repairs and left children at times stranded in broken-down buses, local school district officials say.

“There have been many cases where these buses failed while on routes carrying students,” Cobb school district officials said in an email to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In Atlanta Public Schools, the system has spent more than $1.5 million repairing the engines or buying extra buses.

Along with Cobb and Atlanta schools, Gwinnett and Fulton county schools also purchased buses with the diesel engines. DeKalb had a single bus with the engine in question.

The problems stem from diesel engines with new technology intended to reduce pollution, and they aren’t limited to the Atlanta area.

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Two related school bus service companies in Illinois filed a federal lawsuit against the company that makes the engines —Illinois-based Navistar International Corporation — for racketeering and fraud in connection with what it says are identical issues. They’re seeking millions of dollars in damages.

Navistar also faces a federal class action lawsuit in connection with alleged problems with other engines with similar emission-controls technology used in ambulances, garbage trucks, tractor trailers and other vehicles. Navistar spokeswoman Lyndi McMillan declined to comment in response to inquiries from the AJC.

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