“Big Buses, Bigger Problems: Investigating DCS”

KXAS-TV (NBC 5)
October 04, 2016

This in-depth investigation uncovered serious safety concerns inside Dallas County Schools (DCS), a government agency responsible for transporting more than 75,000 students to school each day in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Through interviews and dozens of open records requests, our team discovered:
• Hundreds of DCS school bus drivers were caught on camera running red lights but were never disciplined. Instead, their bosses used taxpayer money to pay the traffic tickets and allowed the drivers to continue transporting students despite a policy that said they should have been suspended or fired.
• Citizens have made more than 4,000 complaints about DCS bus drivers in just 20 months, including about 2,000 complaints about reckless driving and speeding. One driver received 32 complaints and continued to drive students.
• DCS reported a 103-percent increase in crashes involving its school buses in just one year.
• DCS has been unable to adequately staff its bus routes and still needed to hire 150 drivers halfway through the school year. Inadequate staffing resulted in late buses that caused students to be tardy to class and to miss free breakfast programs.

As a result of our reporting:
• 13 DCS school bus drivers have been fired and 229 suspended.
• DCS demoted its executive director of transportation and executive director of finance. One was ultimately terminated and the other retired within weeks of our initial reports.
• DCS announced it would conduct a “top to bottom” review of its operation and hired a new interim chief financial officer.
• The Dallas Independent School District, the area’s largest, announced plans to consider hiring a private bus company to replace DCS on some, or all, routes.
• A Texas state senator called on fellow legislators to shut down DCS by phasing out the agency’s operating authority.

Our reporting continues into 2017.

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Submitted by Eva Parks.