In what has been a strange and alarming string of events, the Dallas ISD private busing story has reached a conclusion today. Dallas ISD prohibits the use of 12-15 passenger vans to transport school children to and from school due to the questionable legality of their use and the risk of death and serious bodily injury in crashes. This set of events began as a bizarre surprise to Dallas parents; but finally has reached its proper conclusion, surprisingly, with pressure from parents, the local media and local personal injury attorneys. (See, we’re not all bad.)
Parents in Dallas ISD were shocked to see private vans and SUVs appearing instead of buses to transport children. The Dallas ISD, facing budget issues, contracted out the busing responsibility to a private transportation company. It utilized large passenger vans, regular vans and sport utility vehicles to transport the children. One can imagine the company selected these smaller vehicles because they cost less than traditional school buses. These private vehicles bore little or no identification that they were contracted through the school. It was strangers showing up in a bus offering to take the children to school. You can imagine how parents felt about that.
Safety issues in Dallas, Texas
After parents began to voice their concerns and the media began running with the story, the DISD upheld its decision and asserted the vehicles were safe and there was no reason for alarm. Aside from the bizarre idea of an unmarked van showing up to take your kids, the WFAA investigation uncovered information suggesting the safety credentials offered by the private company did not match reality. Most problematic was the use of 12-15 passenger vans to transport the Dallas students. These passenger vans have a high risk of rollover and roof collapse in car wrecks.
The federal government has banned their sale and use to public school districts. It is questionable whether it was legal for DISD to contract out busing with the same vehicles it cannot use. After substantial media and public pressure, the DISD conceded to the issues involving these high-risk passenger vans and announced today that they would ban them for student busing. A clear win for students and their families.