Dallas County

Dallas ISD Superintendent Reassures Parents, Drivers After Voters Shut Down Dallas County Schools

A day after voters overwhelmingly decided to shut down school bus provider Dallas County Schools, Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa is reassuring parents and drivers that buses will be running next fall.

Late Wednesday afternoon the Texas State Comptroller appointed the committee that will take over for DCS and eventually shut it down. The new team includes financial advisors and the superintendents of the nine school districts serviced by DCS.

DCS will keep the buses running through the end of the 2017-2018 school year. After that, the agency's assets will be divided up and the agency will be closed forever.

"It wasn't the employees fault and I think that's what they are most angry about is they are having to pay the price for somebody else’s actions," said Gary Lindsey, interim DCS Superintendent.

It was the actions of the prior administration that brought anger from lawmakers and the Dallas County voters who decided Tuesday to close the agency for good.

Months of reports by NBC 5 Investigates exposed safety problems, questionable business ventures that cost taxpayers millions of dollars and cozy relationships with a camera vendor that made huge campaign donations to one DCS official while sharing side-by-side apartments in New Orleans with another.

"The past administration and the past board president has basically driven the bus off a cliff with everybody else in it," said Dale Kaiser, DCS union representative.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said Wednesday that Dallas County voters made the right call.

"The job number one is to teach these kids and when we get transportation in the way of this, we need to get rid of that and redo it," Rawlings said.

Now the pressure shifts from DCS to the Dallas ISD where Superintendent Hinojosa will be tasked with setting up new bus service for the district's 40,000 students who ride school buses each day.

"It's not going to be easy and it's not going to be fixed overnight," Hinojosa said. "I do feel the pressure to step up, but I'm confident that we do have the people in this district that can make this work. It's not going to be easy."

Hinojosa is one of the nine superintendents on the committee that will operate DCS in transition. By the 2018 school year, those districts will need to either be running their own bus service or have contracted with an outside provider to do so.

Wednesday, State Comptroller Glen Hegar announced the other members of the dissolution committee who bring significant financial and school district experience. They include former Dallas ISD superintendent Mike Moses, now an education consultant and a former state commissioner of education, Matt Boles, a managing director at RBC Capital Markets in Dallas, Chuck Yaple, a certified public accountant, bond counsel Robert Dransfield, an attorney with the law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, and Celina Miller an audit partner with Whitley Penn in Houston.

Hinojosa pledged Wednesday that parents could expect uninterrupted bus service and added that bus drivers working for DCS would be welcome to apply for a job with the Dallas ISD Transportation Team -- which will have more oversight on driver safety.

With the shutdown looming, DCS driver Glen Rayford said he and his colleagues are wondering where they'll be working next year.

"I feel for them. All I can do is pray for them, for all of us," Rayford said.

NBC 5 Investigates reached out to former DCS Board President Larry Duncan and former Superintendent Rick Sorrells, who lead DCS during the time the agency made the business deals that put them near financial ruin.

Duncan responded, but when asked if he had any comment on voters deciding to close DCS he responded, simply, "No."

Sorrells did not respond.

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