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Special Report


Still, the debt incurred by Sorrells ran larger than what the bus depot sale proceeds could cover. “Te debt rendered Dallas County Schools completely


insolvent and caused it to not have adequate funding to continue what it had done since 1894,” said Curtis. While it had been decades since DCSD last housed students in physical classrooms, it provided important services to the independent school districts of Dallas. Tese services included transportation since 1927, as well as online instruction, student mental health services and technology solutions. “What’s important to understand, is that a majority of the cameras purchased remained in a warehouse in unopened boxes and were never utilized,” Curtis added. “Tey were purchased due to the bribes that came in, and sadly convinced Dr. Sorrells to make some poor decisions with taxpayers’ money.” Upon the dissolution, DCSD’s school buses were split up among school districts that had previously relied on its transportation services, one of which was the Dallas Independent School District. With a total population of 155,000 urban students,


Dallas ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa had about six months to figure out how to transport 40,000 of them—who were previously transported by DCSD—across the district’s 230 campuses. As reported in the April issue of School Transportation News, Dallas ISD tapped Kayne Smith, formerly the director of transportation for Beaumont ISD near Houston, to oversee the transition. He and Scott Layne, assistant superintendent of operations, inherited 1,000 school buses, but still had to scramble to fill the driver seats and figure out routing. In July, Dallas ISD officially took over transportation


from DCSD. But one month later at the start of the school year, 100 school bus drivers failed to show up for work. “Unemployment is extremely low in Dallas, and so


there’s not a great [number] of people who are willing, able and qualified to drive buses,” Hinojosa said. “Also, there are a lot of systems that have to be transferred in a short period of time.” He explained that consolidating several bus service centers across the city proved to be a complex problem, as did routing and dispatching. Ten there was the procurement of new digital radios, health insurance, and the onboarding of one thousand new employees. “So trying to do a turnkey operation under the gun in six months that is very high profile certainly created its set of challenges,” Hinojosa added. However, Smith resigned his post after less than one


year on the job to return to his family in the Houston area. Last month, he was named the new director of transportation for Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, succeeding William Powell who earlier this summer was named the district’s assistant superintendent of support services.


24 School Transportation News • OCTOBER 2018


Meanwhile, last year a group of Canadian investors


who were licensed owners of BusGuard technology for use in Canada, decided to purchase the Force Multiplier Solutions intellectual property in a competitive bid, with the goal of making it available across North America. BusPatrol America CEO Jean Souliere said it was only after his new company finalized its acquisition, that it became aware there was a federal criminal investigation against Force Multiplier. “We owned a license for Canada the same way [Dallas County Schools] owned a license for Texas,” Souliere explained. “We were a client for Force Multiplier the same way everyone else was. We were just a client who chose to buy the IP. We wired money to buy the products and then 24 hours later we hear on the news there’s an FBI raid.” With the acquisition a done deal, BusPatrol had a decision to make: Focus on the Canadian market, or step in and help Dallas school districts through the resulting transportation crisis? “Te more cautious approach would have been this is


not your mess, not your problem—stay out. But there was a problem with that, which I wasn’t comfortable with,” said Souliere. “Te problem was all of the students who are relying on this technology to keep them safe, I would have been responsible for taking that away from them, and that’s not part of our culture.” Using its BusGuard technology, BusPatrol America


began servicing existing safety contracts not only in Texas, but nationwide, and hired a new president, David Poirier, a retired U.S. Army officer who led the capture of Saddam Hussein in 2003. More recently, he was a consultant to Force Multiplier and a licensee operating a stand alone BusGuard operation in the northeast U.S. Tis move kept the Dallas cameras running. “We entered into an agreement with BusPatrol that does not involve Robert Leonard or Force Multiplier


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