More School Districts Come Forward with Concerns About DCS Bus Service - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
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More School Districts Come Forward with Concerns About DCS Bus Service

Lancaster ISD says it's seeking bids to potentially replace DCS

A staff shake-up continues inside troubled bus agency Dallas County Schools after an NBC 5 Investigation revealed bus drivers going unpunished for hundreds of violations, including running through red lights. (Published Friday, Dec. 2, 2016)

A staff shake-up continues inside troubled bus agency Dallas County Schools after an NBC 5 Investigation revealed bus drivers going unpunished for hundreds of violations, including running through red lights.

DCS has fired its business manager, and the director of transportation retired last week, meaning both senior managers originally demoted after NBC 5 Investigates uncovered the ticket scandal are now both gone.

Meanwhile, more school districts are stepping forward saying they may consider other options to replace DCS because of growing complaints about service and safety.

New records from the Lancaster Independent School District show a litany of complaints in recent months.

Multiple complaints said buses are "overcrowded" and unsafe, with one case mentioning "students sitting three to a seat and not being able to be seated properly" because a driver shortage forces them to double up on routes.

Other complaints said the buses are chronically late, meaning students are late for school.

In a statement to NBC 5 Investigates, the LISD said, "…in an effort to continue to provide the best possible service to our students and families and operate in a fiscally-responsible manner, we have been in discussions about exploring potential alternatives to DCS."

The statement continued, "…we are going out for a Request for Proposals (RFP) to explore our options."

NBC 5 Investigates obtained new records from the Irving Independent School District that show a multitude of similar complaints.

In November, a school administrator writes, "Almost daily we are asking the cafeteria to keep the breakfast line open to feed late arriving students. When students arrive late instructional time is lost which hurts our students academically."

Irving ISD says it has contracted with Dallas County Schools for more than 30 years with mostly positive experience.

In a statement, the Irving ISD says there has been "...an increase in complaints from schools and parents in recent months."

"We will continue to assess whether the DCS service meets our expectations ... should Dallas County Schools not regularly and adequately address our concerns and meet our needs, we will explore other transportation options," the district's statement said.

A union that represents DCS bus drivers says it's worried about whether DCS could survive losing business, especially from Dallas ISD, which announced Thursday it has hired a consultant to look at other bus companies.

"I'm concerned because Dallas ISD is their biggest contract. You have the other smaller school companies – Irving, Richardson – but that's not going to be enough to sustain Dallas County Schools. They need Dallas ISD," said Angela Davis, president of the NEA-Dallas, which represents about 500 DCS drivers.

Dallas County Schools leaders say they are currently conducting a top-to-bottom, side-to-side review of the entire agency.

They insist they run a safe operation and say they working to resolve complaints from school districts.

DCS revealed many of the bus drivers who are being suspended over the red light ticket scandal will serve their suspension by taking unpaid vacation days over the holidays.

With more than 200 drivers suspended, DCS had to find a way to roll out suspension that wouldn't shut down the bus operation.

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