DISD Discontinues Van Use to Transport Students
After a local news station reported that the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) was using 12- to 15-passenger vans to transport students, a practice that is not only dangerous, but also illegal for Texas public school districts, the DISD discontinued using the vans. However, Dallas County Schools—which provides bus service for DISD—continues to support the decision to use third-party contractors that use the vans, claiming the process is in compliance with state law. Effort to Reduce Costs At the beginning of the school year, parents expressed outrage when they learned that approximately 2,200 students were being transported to and from school in private vans, SUVs and taxis in an effort to save DISD money. The outrage led to a reduction of only 1,800 students transported using the vans. The news report found that the vans used by the private contractors were the same style as those with a history of rollovers, injuries, and even deaths throughout the country. Violation of Texas Law Texas law states that “only school buses shall be used for the transportation of students to and from school on routes having ten or more students” and that passenger cars may be used only on routes having fewer than ten students. The Texas Association of School Boards also has a regulation that says, “School districts are not allowed to use 12- or 15-passenger vans to transport students on routes to or from school.” The National Transportation Safety Administration actually has a picture of the same type of van used to transport DISD students with a caption that reads “Do Not Use as a School Bus.” According to safety experts, vans do not offer the same protections that school buses provide. Taken Off Road DISD officials announced that, due to the reports of safety issues and after a review of the law, they were removing the 12- to 15-passenger vehicles from bus routes, effective Monday, September 30, 2013. DISD officials stressed that safety of students was a top priority, and that they intended to hold Dallas County Schools accountable for that safety as well. When a safety violation is suspected as the cause or a contributing factor in an accident that causes injury or death, a liability claim may be in order. Contact Dallas-Fort Worth lawyers at Frenkel & Frenkel to schedule a free initial consultation regarding an accident that may have been caused or worsened by a safety violation.