DISD Bus Contractor's Use of Passenger Cars Draws Criticism

Contractor provides service on routes with fewer than 10 students

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A private company contracts a certain number of bus routes across the Dallas Independent School District. But some routes are not getting serviced leaving students without transportation. (Published Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013)

    Some parents, including a mother who says her son was never picked up from school on the first two days of school this year, are criticizing the bus service for some Dallas school district routes.

    Isabel Robels said a bus never came for her son, Jonathon Perez, after school on Monday and Tuesday. Jonathon, who is in the deaf education program, gets bus service from contractor American Logistics Co.

    "They contacted me early this morning and told me they were not going to pick him up for a few days until they get things ironed out," Robels said.

    The ALC vehicles are supposed to be designated with the route number and destination school, but parents sent NBC 5 pictures of vans that were not clearly marked.

    By Friday, all of the vehicles will have magnetic signs identifying them as official Dallas County transportation vehicles, DISD said.

    Dallas County Schools, which provides transportation for several school districts, including DISD, said the number of students transported by ALC substantially increased this year from 500 students to almost 2,200.

    Dallas County Schools also said there was a communication problem about the program. Over the summer, some families moved, while others had an old phone number on file with the school district.

    Robels said her family moved and understands the problem, but said she is very concerned about her child's safety.

    The Dallas Independent School District said in a statement that ALC was hired to provide service for routes with fewer than 10 students. State law requires that routes with 10 students use school buses, but passenger vehicles -- including sport utility vehicles, sedans and taxis -- can be used on other routes.

    "You don't want to use a big vehicle like a school bus to transport a small number of students, and the main reason it was used is to cut down on the time they're in a school bus," said Susan Falvo, Dallas County Schools spokeswoman.

    ALC said in a statement that it doesn't make sense to use full-size buses on routes with two to five students or for buses to make multiple stops in order to reach capacity. Smaller vehicles cut down on transport time and gives school districts more flexibility, ALC said.

    "We do recognize that any change, especially changes that involve someone's children, takes some time to get used to, and we are working closely with parents and school administrators to help them through this transition," ALC said.

    All vehicles used to transport students are 2010 and newer and must pass inspections.

    "Let us know your concerns, so we can take care of that," Falvo said.