Dallas ISD School Board Frustrated with DCS, Researching Other Bus Options

Dallas Independent School District Board of Trustees members debated Thursday about what to do about troubled bus contractor, Dallas County Schools.

Board members revealed Thursday that Dallas ISD has hired a consultant to begin looking at using other bus companies for at least some of its routes. Some board members believe competition may help push DCS to become safer and more reliable.

"We know from some excellent investigative reporting by NBC 5 that crashes have doubled in more than a year," said school board trustee, Dustin Marshall.

Marshall urged his colleagues to consider new bus companies, saying they cannot tolerate a bus agency with safety lapses, including hundreds of red-light running tickets.

"To me that sounds very much like a vendor that has put safety aside and isn't trying to protect our children," said Marshall.

Other board members chided district staff, saying they need to do more now to demand better service from DCS.

"For us to come and talk about all the issues and not every day in their face holding them accountable, then that's a problem and that's failed leadership," said school board trustee, Bernadette Nutall.

In a statement Thursday, DCS said it is conducting a systematic review of its operation but the bus agency disputed Dallas ISD's claims that one-third of its buses are late. DCS claims about 90 percent were on-time Thursday.

"Unfortunately, it appears school bus safety is evolving into a political issue and not an administrative responsibility," the DCS statement said. "We have put in a call to the Dallas ISD Superintendent because many of the facts presented in today's meeting are not correct."

"This is one of the safest bus systems in Texas and in the nation," the DCS statement continued.

Still, some Dallas ISD board members insist the service is unacceptable and that DCS charges the district twice as much compared to just four years ago.

"This is a clear issue where safety is on the downhill spiral, reliability service is all poor, the cost is rising and there are very clear alternatives on this one," said Marshall.

The Dallas ISD school board did not take any votes Thursday. The meeting was just a board briefing, but district leaders are moving ahead with a study to review their options.

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