PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A transportation company has filed a lawsuit against the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), claiming the state has breached its contract.
The complaint filed by Ocean State Transit on Sept. 30 alleges that RIDE defaulted on payments they were contractually obligated to make throughout the 2020-21 school year.
The company said the complaint “outlines how RIDE required Ocean State to maintain operational readiness during the 2020 spring school closures, but refused to pay for any portion of the amount due to Ocean State Transit during that time.”
Ocean State Transit also made the claim that RIDE has always had ample funds to pay its contractors, but actively chose not to.
“Rather than fulfilling its obligations, RIDE withheld funds due to Ocean State Transit in order to try to dictate future contract terms,” the company said in a statement. “Eventually, when Ocean State Transit refused to be held hostage by RIDE, the state suspended student transportation regulations through an executive order, claiming that there were no qualified student transportation providers in compliance with Rhode Island’s regulations.”
“These regulations were suspended for no apparent reason other than to permit RIDE to hire out of state providers at a cost much higher than what was due to be paid to Ocean State,” the statement continued. “Ocean State Transit is seeking a swift resolution that will hold RIDE accountable for its decision to spend Rhode Islanders’ tax dollars to hire out of state contractors who would otherwise not have been able to bid to replace a tried and true student transportation provider and to fairly compensate the company for maintaining readiness to serve local students and the community during an unprecedented public health emergency.”
12 News reached out to RIDE for comment but has not yet heard back.