Haverhill’s School Bus Provider Demands the City Pay $613,000 or Face Legal Action

NRT's John McCarthy, right, addresses the Haverhill School Committee along with his lawyer Anthony Metaxas on Aug. 28, 2019. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill’s principal school bus provider is threatening to take the city to court, saying officials have no right to withhold payment regardless of school closures.

NRT Bus, through its lawyer Howard M. Cooper of Todd and Weld, said in a letter Monday the city owes the company $613,405. The law firm said a School Committee vote in early April to “no longer pay for services not received” isn’t legal.

In the letter to Mayor James J. Fiorentini, school Superintendent Margaret Marotta and assistant Superintendent Michael Pfifferling, NRT says the city must continuing paying for transportation services “whether or not they have actually been rendered during the pandemic.”

Further, the NRT says state law “explicitly permits payment for the full range of services” during pandemic-related school closures.

Fiorentini told city councilors Monday night that while he doesn’t believe the city owes NRT money, the schools still must try to reach agreement.

“We have to work out an agreement with NRT or we’re not going to be able to get the kids to school come September. And there is going to be school this September,” he said.

Back in April, NRT President John J. McCarthy told school administrators Haverhill currently pays the lowest rate in the state for busing and said he couldn’t promise any laid off drivers would be available when school resumes.

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