DPS: Bus drivers using vehicles for personal errands

A Dayton Public Schools internal audit revealed that employees in maintenance, grounds and transportation are improperly operating district vehicles for their personal use, leading to excess wear and mileage.

Internal Auditor Randall Harper reported Wednesday night that 10 of the bus drivers reviewed had taken their bus for personal use — five of them doing so 20 times or more in the 2015-16 school year. More than a third of drivers studied had personal use issues, such as taking a bus home at lunch, or running personal errands.

“This does not include small breaks (while employees are in the field),” Harper said. “These are significant, obvious personal uses of DPS vehicles.”

Harper said the GPS software on the district’s buses is excellent, but supervisors are filling in as drivers so often that they aren’t able to monitor vehicles, or perform other supervisory duties.

“Because it is difficult to monitor the vast fleet of DPS vehicles throughout the district with limited supervision resources, it is recommended that GPS units be installed on all types of DPS vehicles,” Harper said, while also calling for hiring of more bus drivers.

School board president Adil Baguirov said Thursday the district will install the GPS units in all vehicles. He said while Harper’s audits reveal unpleasant things, it’s good that the district finds waste and abuse quickly.

“A small number of bus drivers unfortunately have been abusing the trust and confidence of this district,” Baguirov said, adding there would be disciplinary consequences. “By putting those problems out there, and talking about them very openly, we’re much better custodians of taxpayer money than 99 percent of other school districts.”

Among other “high risk” findings, Harper identified a simple issue that could contribute to DPS’ problem of late buses. He said multiple drivers park idling buses near the break room entrance, blocking other drivers from backing out to start their routes.

Monique Dewberrry, a parent who has struggled with missing and late DPS buses this fall, was surprised by the audit findings.

“I thing that’s crazy. They’re taking advantage of people,” Dewberry said. “I just hope they get it straightened out so I can drop him off (at the bus stop) and go on my way to work. That’s all I’m asking.”

School board member John McManus said the overwhelming number of calls the district gets are about busing problems. He pointed to the recent hire of new transportation director Michael Rosenberger and efforts to rethink bus routing as progress.

“This is non-negotiable. If we’re going to pull up enrollment we have to fix transportation,” McManus said. “But we cannot strategically fix transportation unless we have hard evidence as to what specifically is wrong. So between the audit and having some consultants come through, I think we’re gathering that information.”

Harper called for clear communication of existing district policy — that personal use of DPS vehicles is prohibited and will lead to disciplinary action.

He also found that manual reporting of bus departure times and driver overtime hours can lead to mistakes in pay. Harper called for the district to use a feature of the existing GPS system to require drivers to swipe IDs on the bus for accurate tracking.

Elsewhere in his audit, Harper included 44 observations at the maintenance division, where work rules call for employees to take a 30-minute lunch. He said in half of those 44 cases, employees took lunches of 43 minutes or more, up to a maximum of 87 minutes.

Harper said good news that came up during the audit was the number of bus drivers and skilled trades workers who approached him eager to discuss improvement ideas.

NewsCenter 7’s John Bedell contributed to this report.

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