Youngstown schools' transportation chief earns state award


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Colleen Murphy-Penk, Youngstown City School District's chief of transportation, won the William Rice Award of Excellence for the Pupil Transportation Supervisor of the Year. With her at the award ceremony in Columbus on Monday is school district CEO Krish Mohip.

YOUNGSTOWN

Colleen Murphy-Penk, Youngstown City School District's chief of transportation, won the William Rice Award of Excellence for the Pupil Transportation Supervisor of the Year.

Murphy-Penk was surprised by the award, presented Monday night by the Ohio Association for Pupil Transportation, during the association’s annual conference in Columbus.

“I have a passion and that passion is pupil transportation,” she told the audience of school transportation officials from across Ohio.

Named for a past OAPT president, the William Rice Award of Excellence recognizes a supervisor who exhibits outstanding leadership and professional conduct in school transportation both in his or her district and in the state.

It also recognizes supervisors who have contributed to the advancement of pupil transportation supervision as a profession.

Murphy-Penk’s family as well as school district CEO Krish Mohip and members of YCSD’s senior staff, traveled to Columbus to see her accept the award.

Mohip and Jeff Vrabel Sr., past president of OAPT, nominated Murphy-Penk for the honor.

When Mohip came to Youngstown, the district’s transportation department was in shambles after the Ohio Department of Education found all of its buses out of compliance for safety issues and de-certified all district bus drivers.

That’s when he hired Murphy-Penk to take over transportation. She became transportation chief in September 2016 after serving as the Austintown Local School District’s transportation director for many years.

“Her likeability matched with her no-nonsense approach and sense of urgency has transformed her department, from one of the worst in the state to arguably the best, in 18 short months,” Mohip wrote in his letter to the association.

She was able to retrain all drivers, get buses back on the road, initiate a plan to replace the whole bus fleet, reroute the entire district and revamp technology, implementing the MyStop app for parents, the CEO wrote.

In his letter, Vrabel said that Murphy-Penk turned around a department that was in turmoil.

Murphy-Penk became YCSD’s transportation chief in September 2016 after serving as the Austintown Local School District’s transportation director for many years.

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