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On-Duty Campaigning and On-Time Performance Questions for DCS

New questions about on-duty campaigning and on-time performance confronted Dallas County Schools officials Wednesday, with voting already underway in a referendum that could kill the school bus agency.

Dallas parent Aren Cambre said his 13-year-old son was given a campaign flyer by a bus driver Monday.

The flyer urged a yes vote on the referendum to keep DCS operating.

"Why is a bus driver campaigning to my child, a minor, about a political issue that he can't even vote on?" Cambre asked. "The driver said, 'We're going not to have a job and you will not have buses if your parents don't vote to save DCS.'"

Facebook posts from other parents with children on the same bus confirm that statement from the driver.

Acting DCS Superintendent Gary Lindsey said he sent an e-mail to all DCS offices after learning about the driver's actions.

"You can't do that," Lindsey said. "You can't electioneer on the property. We're not going to provide information out to the kids to take to their parents. That's just inappropriate. So, we had that stopped as soon as we found out about it."

Lindsey said no employee was disciplined, because officials could not be sure which driver was involved.

He and DCS Board President Gloria Levario spoke Wednesday on a KHVN-AM Radio talk show, promoting the new image they are trying to cast for the troubled agency.

"We are all about being transparent," Levario said. "Our on-time rate for Dallas ISD is now 98.5 percent."

Records for service to Dallas ISD show 32 percent of buses were not included in the September performance figure. Numbers for the first 13 days of October show 22 percent of buses were not included.

"They can only prove that roughly two-thirds of all bus trips are on time," Cambre said. "That doesn't seem transparent to me."

The officials said traffic delays from accidents or construction can be excluded from the calculation, and GPS equipment to track performance has not been operating properly on some buses.

Cambre said his son's bus has been late several times this school year.

"As a parent, I am not OK when my student is late to class, and it doesn't matter what the reason is," he said.

The new DCS board president and acting superintendent replaced predecessors who both recently resigned after NBC 5 Investigates reports the past year on DCS safety and financial issues.

DCS critics won the state law that allows for the Nov. 7 referendum to close the agency.

Levario said new leadership has reformed the agency in a very short time, and the improved DCS is the best option for the school districts it serves.

Outside experts have been hired to investigate past problems.

"We're doing a complete audit to try to find out what happened, when it happened, why it happened, who was involved," Levario said.

The current officials also confirmed a separate criminal investigation of past financial issues is underway.

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