Dear Team DPS,
I appreciate the conversations I’ve had today with Transportation Team members. I met with staff at both of our bus terminals, to listen to concerns and answer questions about the Sept. 18 bus incident and about the way we have supported all of our DPS community: our Transportation staff, our students and their families. These meetings were held in addition to the meeting we hosted last week with the impacted family members.
First of all, I want to acknowledge the anger and disappointment I heard from our Transportation Team members in regards to my initial public statement about the incident. I want to apologize to them for not sufficiently acknowledging the complexity of their jobs and showing support and appreciation for the work they do to serve our students and families. That, of course, was not my intention. I expressed genuine concern about what happened, but did so in a way that made our team members feel unsupported. I’m very sorry for that, and I will learn from it.
Our Transportation Team comes in every day to support tens of thousands of our students and ensure that they are transported safely. This is a difficult job and they do it with the highest level of integrity and care for our students. Driving a busload of young people is a serious responsibility, and they take this charge to heart.
I also want to emphasize the clear commitment I heard from our Transportation Team to safety—for all of the children who ride our buses and for the staff members whose job it is to safely transport them to and from school. There are critically important safety procedures that must be honored and respected by everyone—including the necessary safety rule that only assigned students and school staff are allowed to enter and ride a school bus unless unless special permission is granted by Transportation or a school leader.
In the meetings we hosted today and with families, I heard people express how important it is to collaborate with all of our community to create safe environments for our students and staff. We as adults need to model positive behavior, and we have an established code of conduct for our students that outlines our expectations for them so that we have a safe and caring environment. The safety of our staff and students is our highest priority, and we are committed to working with our Transportation Team to ensure everyone — staff and students — is safe.
We are continuing to do a thorough review of the incident to determine what next steps are necessary, in order to be accountable, to learn, and to make any necessary improvements to our procedures and training. I also want to assure everyone that the police investigation of the incident determined that the allegations of inappropriate touching by DPS staff on the bus were not founded.
I appreciate the opportunity to have these discussions with our Transportation Team. Their candid, direct feedback is helpful to me as a leader and learner, and I think the conversations today—while tough, at times—will make us a stronger and closer Team DPS overall.
I know that we all want what’s best for our kids. And we go forward with a strong, shared commitment to focus on safety, collaboration and support.