Should Dallas teachers who also drive a school bus be forced to choose one job over the other?
DALLAS — A group of veteran Dallas Independent School District teachers who drive school buses for extra income say say they have been given a shocking ultimatum: Either keep driving a bus, or teach for DISD; you can no longer do both.
They are employees of Dallas County Schools, hired by DISD to drive children to and from school. Thirty-seven of them are full-time employees of DISD.
Driving a bus provides teachers with a critical second income. Some have been doing both jobs for decades.
Until now, that is.
DISD Superintendent Mike Miles has adopted a new policy, saying drivers and teachers can no longer do both.
On Tuesday, Dallas County Schools officials handed out memos to those 37 drivers giving them 48 hours to decide.
"It's kind of a shock to me that I'd be handed a piece of paper like this," said Fred Leal, a physical education teacher at Skyline High School who has been driving a bus and teaching for ten years. "I would have thought I'd put more into the county to get a little more respect than to be handed a piece of paper saying you need to make a decision by Thursday."
Leal said he will have to stop driving a bus, it appears, which will cost him an estimated $20,000 per year in added income.
Terrence Johnson has been teaching and driving for the past 14 years. He said his integrity and dedication have never been questioned.
"No one has ever suggested to me that I was doing something improper," he said. "I would like to know what it is that I have done wrong."
DISD officials said the policy change comes in part because one of the drivers was recently caught driving while clocked in as a teacher. They said an ongoing internal audit suggests that it's best to end the practice of driving and teaching altogether.
"We have to put our kids first," said DISD Director of Operations Wanda Paul. "Teaching and teachers being in the building is our first order of business."
DISD officials said they regret the loss of income for a few of the drivers, but one union representative said Superintendent Miles is punishing good employees for the sins of one or two.
"This is just another thing that destroys the little confidence that the citizens have in him," said Malinda McKee, a representative of the Texas State Teachers Association.
DISD officials said teachers are permitted to have an outside job as long as they are able to work eight-and-a-half hours a day for the district.
The bus drivers say because of their schedules, they are able to only work an eight-hour day.