Dallas County Schools Hires Dissolution CEO, Drivers Worried About Future Employment

There's new management at Dallas County Schools -- the troubled agency that runs the school buses in Dallas and eight other local school districts.

As the result of a general election vote earlier this month, a state-appointed committee took over operations Wednesday and will now begin the task of shutting down the 171-year-old agency.

The committee faces tough questions about what happens to the buses, the drivers and more than $130 million of debt.

At Wednesday's meeting, the committee settled on a chief executive officer Wednesday to deal with the mess, choosing former Dallas ISD Chief Auditor Alan King who helped blow the whistle on DCS' problems earlier this year.

"Our current financial situation is pretty bleak," King said. "We are going to find a way to make it to the end of the year, period. I don't know how, but we will make it," King said.

King said DCS' debt is closer to $136 million and that the agency lost tens of millions more on the questionable school bus camera deal.

King briefly worked at DCS earlier this year when he was hired as the interim chief financial officer after NBC 5 Investigates uncovered misspending inside the agency. He then blew the whistle on more troubles before abruptly resigning without specifying a reason.

Wednesday, King would only say he had a difference of opinion with former DCS Superintendent Rick Sorrells, who was ousted as the agency's leader after board members accused him of keeping them in the dark about the agency's financial situation. Sorrells has not responded to questions about those claims.

"I'm really not going to get into that. We just have different philosophies. I just really can't get into that," King said.

Also at the meeting, drivers were curious about future employment while parents were wondering how their children would be getting to and from school. Bond holders, meanwhile, want to know if they'll be paid.

"We don't know enough yet to make a whole lot of promises or decisions," said Dallas ISD Superintendent and DCS Dissolution Committee Member Dr. Michael Hinojosa. "But we know that we are serious. We got good people in place."

Hinojosa's assurances were not enough for some drivers, including one who shouted from the back of the room and asked how they were expected to be patient when they didn't know if they would have a job or not.

Other drivers said they were worried pay and benefits would be cut once busing was transferred to the districts or other companies next year.

"I want to see everything remain the same for the drivers and the monitors, period," said driver John Luster.

The chair of the committee pledged Wednesday to protect DCS' employees.

"Everyone that is on the board and everyone I have talked to is very interested in fairness to the employees. I think that many of these individuals, if not all, will be driving buses for one of the districts next year," Mike Moses said.

Wednesday the new board said they would be looking forward, not backward, when trying to solve the agency's issues and will leave the job of identifying what led to the problems up to law enforcement.

As we have previously reported, the FBI is investigating the bus camera deals that led to DCS' money troubles.

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