Tour Bus Company strands Toms River High Schoolers heading on field trip
Imagine your a high school student excited for a trip with classmates to Washington D.C. to see how government works and explore our nations history.
Then imagine the bus that's supposed to take you there doesn't show up.
That's what happened to Toms River High School students in the Political and Legal Education (PLE) programs on Monday morning.
Toms River Regional Schools wrote a check to the Trolley Tour Bus office for $3,100.00 ahead of the trip that was approved by the school board for all three PLE programs at the February BOE meeting.
"The program adviser personally took the check for $3100 to the Trolley Tour Bus office. It was accepted with no mention of potential issue," Mike Kenny, Toms River Regional Schools Coordinator of the Office of Grants and Communication, told WOBM News.
However, on Monday despite the money already being handed in, no bus from Trolley Tours Inc. showed up at 6:00 am to bring the students on their field trip.
"The program adviser called the company and was informed on their answering message that they had filed for bankruptcy. No other acknowledgment was ever given," Kenny said.
An attempt by WOBM News to get in touch with Trolley Tours Incorporated was similarly met with a redirect to a line that left a voicemail stating that the company had filed for bankruptcy and they weren't accepting any messages because their mailbox is full.
The Chapter 11 bankruptcy case they're referencing is 18-29240 which they filed for on September 27, 2018 in front of Judge Michael Kaplan.
The last filing in the case is dated April 1, 2019, after Toms River Regional Schools said they gave Trolley Tours Inc. a check for $3,100.00.
A request for comment via email by WOBM News to Trolley Tours Inc. and their bankruptcy court attorney Daniel Straffi Jr. has not yet been returned.
The good news for Toms River High School students is that they were able to make the field trip on Monday thanks to the neighboring Central Regional School District.
"We were able to secure alternate busing and the students ultimately resumed their trip," Mike Kenny said. "We do appreciate Central Regional's efforts; educators coming together to support each other and our students is why we do what we do."
For Central Regional Schools Superintendent Triantafillos (Tommy) Parlapanides it was about helping a fellow Ocean County school in need.
"We work in a nice county where we all help each other and are surrounded with good people," Parlapanides said. "Without kids, we don't have jobs. We're lucky to be working with other groups in Ocean County."
Parlapanides also recognized the trying times for Jersey Shore school districts among many others getting funding removed by the state.
"It's tough with the driver shortage and it's getting more difficult to run schools," Parlapanides said. "Change is needed to our education system, with things like funding and getting more drivers."
There's no price set for what will be charged to Toms River Schools for the buses they sent down to Washington D.C. but there's a formula that includes a per-mile rate to be worked out with Central Regional Transportation Coordinator Barbara Sargent.
The field trip to Washington D.C. was reported by The Patch as a two-day visit which included a stop at Capital Hill.
It's not known if Toms River Schools will be reimbursed by Trolley Tours Incorporated for the lack of transportation.
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