Dallas County Schools Interim Superintendent Leatha Mullins says if proposed legislation to dissolve the agency passes it will create chaos for the families of 76,000 students who depend on them each day to get to and from school.
In a statement released to the media Wednesday, Mullins said if the agency is shuttered "it would cost school districts in Dallas County over $262 million to provide their own transportation and that the legislation will make efficient, effective transportation unfeasible."
As evidence of the claim, Mullins said one of DCS' smaller clients, the Cedar Hill Independent School District, recently requested bids from for-profit bus providers and learned that it would cost them an additional $900,000 per year for equivalent service.
“To put that in perspective, that would be like forcing that ISD to sacrifice about 18 classroom teachers and never be able to have a way to bring in enough money to replace them," Mullins said.
Meanwhile, Mullins argued the agency has truly transformed from what it was just months ago, while reiterating her frustration with state legislators and the media who continue to investigate the agency's history and financial dealings.
“We have met every single demand from the legislature. We have completed an audit, refinanced the bonds, reorganized procedures and there’s a complete team of new leadership including the Board of Trustees. We’ve truly transformed DCS and are moving forward," said Mullins. “We accomplished the impossible with this new team and did everything we were asked to do but we can’t seem to be heard over this runaway freight train.”
Mullins expressed concern the proposed legislation, which would call for a November general election vote on the future of the agency, may cause a staffing shortage if drivers and other employees leave for other opportunities.
“Even though we have fixed the problems and we have reached out to law enforcement officials regarding some previous operational issues, no one is listening to us or thinking about the children," Mullins said.
Mullins added that she's contacted law enforcement to investigate all of DCS' operations, past and present, and has invited former state auditor John Keel to implement a corrective action plan that includes new policies and procedures to strengthen the operating control environment.
Mullins said she's also ordered a forensic audit trail of stop-arm camera contracts and the sale-leaseback of select real estate, the subject of an NBC 5 Investigates special report.