Reporting Steve Pickett
RICHARDSON (CBSDFW.COM) - Kenneth Stretcher, a field organizer for United Labor Unions Local 100, which represents area school bus drivers, said a torrid temperature of 113.9 degrees was recorded inside a school bus used to pick up students from Richardson High School during the summer session.
“We needed to let the public know what their children were being exposed to”, he said Tuesday, during a called press conference.
Stretcher, along with others affiliated with school bus service, claimed drivers and students have been subjected to scorching temperatures on buses with non-functioning air conditioning systems.
“I have been driving a bus in summer school with no AC for three weeks”, driver Jerrine Vincent said.
Vincent transports students to and from Richardson High School during the summer session. Vincent said she repeatedly asked for a bus with operating AC.
Four hours after she voiced her complaint publicly during the union press conference, the veteran driver pulled up to the school with a clean bus, complete with working AC.
1500 students are enrolled in the summer session at Richardson High. On Tuesday afternoon, at least eight buses were on campus, ready to transport students home. Drivers said every bus was replaced after the public complaints.
Dallas County Schools is the tax-supported agency contracted to provide bus transportation for Richardson, Dallas, Coppell, Carrollton-Farmers Branch, Irving and several other area school districts.
In a written statement issued Tuesday, DCS Chief of Staff Susan Falvo said “31 air conditioner problems were reported by drivers. All have been repaired or replaced”. The agency has yet to detail its policy on the use of buses without working air conditioning, or why drivers would use units that didn’t have operable air conditioning.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Falvo said the Richardson fleet has 143 buses. 14 buses are used for the summer session.
She disputes the claim driver Vincent drove without AC for three weeks. “The driver you mentioned (Vincent) was given a substitute bus with A/C 3 days after her work ticket was received by our shop”, Falvo wrote in an email. The union group said health and safety for drivers and students were at risk for weeks.
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