By SONYA ROBERTS-WOODS/Publisher
All Daingerfield-Lone Star ISD school buses are now safe according to Superintendent Sandra Quarles after discovering that a former employee repeatedly failed to have them properly inspected.
On Sept. 20, 2018, Quarles was first made aware of a possible discrepancy in paperwork regarding the inspections of several district buses. That same day Quarles requested that the Department of Public Safety do an investigation to determine any issues surrounding the validity of the inspections. According to Quarles, a DPS auditor came later that day and interviewed then DLSISD Transportation Director Ken Parr.
“He was interviewed and his statement was taken,” Quarles explained. “We kept waiting for a final report, but never received anything.”
It is believed that Parr, who worked for the district for a total of five years, either provided VINs (vehicle identification numbers) to a local approved inspection station or falsely reported that someone performed the inspections on-site—both illegal procedures. Parr also presented invoices to the district that indicated the bus inspections had, in fact, been performed.
“His (Parr’s) explanation was that he was in a time crunch and wanted to expedite the inspections, but either way his actions were unacceptable,” she said.
Assuming the incident was isolated and that there would be no further action taken by DPS, Quarles chose to discipline Parr internally. While he remained employed within the district in transportation, he was immediately released from his duties as department head. Parr also faced other related disciplinary actions as a result of the incident.
Fast forward to the recent January 14 Daingerfield-Lone Star ISD board meeting when questions again arose about not only the 2018 bus inspections, but also inspections that were supposedly performed in 2017.
“He was then immediately asked to resign and he did,” she said. “It’s an unfortunate situation. If I errored, it is the fact that I gave him a second chance. He was a hard worker who just made a bad decision.”
The following day, after the board meeting, all 14 route buses in the district were taken to three locations and properly inspected. The 11 additional substitute buses were then inspected over the course of a few days. Quarles, who oversees a district of 1,032 students, also requested and finally received the initial DPS report two weeks ago. The report provided no additional findings or infractions.
In the wake of the recent, tragic bus wreck in Athens, Quarles said all bus drivers attended a safety meeting earlier this week to discuss all railroad crossings in the district and proper procedures.
“I have grandchildren in the district who have ridden on the buses,” Quarles said. “I would never jeopardize the safety of a child—never.”