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Richardson ISD Joins School Districts with Complaints About Late Buses

(Published Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016)

The Richardson Independent School District is joining a growing list of local school districts speaking out about school buses making students late for class.

Richardson ISD is one of 12 districts contracting with Dallas County Schools – the bus agency that's been under fire for safety lapses and chronically late service.

Officials with the district told NBC 5 they are willing to give their bus contractor more time to fix issues, but not a lot of time.

"Our job is to educate students and we can't educate them if they are not in their classrooms," said Sandra Hayes, assistant superintendent with the Richardson ISD.

Hayes said her staff is constantly discussing concerns with bus contractor DCS.

"We monitor daily the number of routes they're down on drivers, and then we monitor how quickly they can reassign routes and get our kids where they need to be," said Hayes.

Richardson joins school districts in Irving, Coppell, Lancaster and Dallas which have also complained complaints about tardy DCS buses this school year.

Lancaster and Dallas have already announced plans to consider a new bus provider, but Richardson said it's willing to give DCS at least a couple of months to make good on promises to improve.

"I'd like to give them some time to put that plan into action and see to some results. Certainly they need to be quick. We cannot have kids late to school every day," said Hayes.

DCS has said it’s struggling with a driver shortage and current has 154 openings across all 12 districts.

Wednesday morning, DCS was out recruiting at the first of four local job fairs held over the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, in Richardson, they're waiting for nine newly-hired drivers to take their road tests.

"We know that they are short on drivers, so we have not had a full complement of drivers for all of our bus routes," Hayes said.

School officials promise to consider other options if they don't see improvement.

"I don't have a deadline, a hard deadline, but I'd like to see it quickly," Hayes said.

DCS said its on-time rate has improved to 90 percent system-wide in recent months. However, that statistic comes from an electronic tracking system that's only been installed on about half of the bus fleet.

DCS officials added they are continuing to meet with districts to work through any service concerns.

This is not the first time they have been in this situation. In 2012, there were similar complaints from then-Dallas ISD superintendent Mike Miles about late buses and a shortage of drivers. DCS promised then to make changes to ensure they would not face a similar situation again.

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