DCS Hires New Financial Chief in Wake of School Bus Driver Ticket Scandal

Dallas County Schools taps former Dallas ISD interim superintendent, auditor to help turn around troubled bus system

Dallas County Schools announced Tuesday it has hired a new interim chief financial officer as the operation attempts to regain public trust in the wake of a school bus driver ticket scandal.

An NBC 5 investigation revealed hundreds of bus drivers ran red lights, and district employees used $80,000 of taxpayer money to pay the tickets.

The bus drivers were never punished until NBC 5 Investigates asked why.

Now, 13 school bus drivers have been fired and 229 will be suspended at DCS, which transports students for about a dozen North Texas school districts, including the Dallas Independent School District.

Tuesday, DCS said Alan King will serve as its interim CFO. King is a former chief auditor at Dallas ISD and served as interim superintendent there.

In a statement, DCS said, "We could not have selected a better person for this job at this time."

King was widely praised as a trustworthy watchdog at Dallas ISD. His job will be to help DCS put policies and procedures in place and strengthen financial reporting in the wake of the scandal.

At a board meeting Tuesday DCS Superintendent Rick Sorrels outlined steps he's taken already to address concerns: demoting two senior managers, and requesting personal reports going forward when drivers are ticketed.

For nearly three years DCS paid the tickets and never notified the bus drivers responsible.

Some of the fired drivers argue the delay in notifying them robbed them of their right to challenge the tickets or change their driving behavior until it was too late.

"Three years. That right there makes it wrong. Three years, you notify a man," said Vernon Johnson, who was fired after DCS told him last week he had accumulated three red light running tickets over three years.

Johnson said his firing is unfair because he got no warning.

DCS didn't follow its policy – didn't tell him he was accumulating red light tickets – until he had three, the number that results in firing.

Johnson and other former bus drivers are filing grievances demanding their jobs back.

"I'm not going to take this laying down at all. I'm going to fight it 'til the end," Johnson said.

Two unions that represent DCS drivers are assisting drivers with the grievance process.

"Something needs to happen because they were not notified. They did not have the opportunity for due process, because they didn't know. If you don't know you have a certain behavior, you can't correct it," said Angela Davis, president of the NEA-Dallas, which represents about 500 DCS drivers.

More than 100 of the violations uncovered in the NBC 5 investigation involved one DCS bus running past the extended stop sign on another school bus.

Tuesday, the DCS board formally approved a new policy to terminate any driver who does this after just the first offense.

Late Tuesday, DCS released new video that appeared aimed at deflecting some attention from their own drivers. The video shows a Dallas Area Rapid Transit bus running the stop sign on a DCS school bus.

DART responded, calling the driver's actions "unacceptable" and said the video will be used for driver training.

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