Student Support and Safety on Buses

PSD's work to ensure student safety

Poudre School District has taken and will continue taking action to improve systems following the May 2023 arrest and firing of a former bus paraprofessional, charged with felony child abuse involving students. PSD will continue to make changes to mitigate the risk of that happening again. Nothing is more important than the safety of our students.

Since May, PSD staff have been working on changes in Human Resources and Transportation, including those that relate to Integrated Services. Immediately following the former paraprofessional’s arrest, PSD began working with an outside law firm, Lyons Gaddis, which reviewed the situation. This firm was assigned to the district by PSD’s insurance carrier as part of their standard process. Staff quickly determined that additional expertise was needed to do this work right, so PSD is working with multiple third parties to get their insight. The following information is what is in progress now. 

Transportation Audit Results and Recommendations

In fall 2023, Poudre School District enlisted the help of consulting firm the Center for Effective School Operations (CESO) to examine transportation-related practices and procedures in the district. CESO’s findings and recommendations were presented to the PSD Board of Education on June 11, 2024. 

PSD is in the process of implementing every recommendation as well as other recommendations from CESO, which are all listed below as "CESO recommendation." 

Transportation Department Action

Additional training
Near the beginning of the school year, all bus drivers and bus aids will participate in training that focuses on supporting every student as an individual, as well as building connections with students.  

  • Members of the Integrated Services Department and other staff will teach courses about supporting students with medical conditions, like seizures and diabetes; Early Childhood Education support, focusing on students who are pre- and non-verbal; Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and Individualized Transportation Plans (ITPs); and positive behavior reinforcement; among other topics.  
  • CESO recommendation: Standardize training and onboarding procedures, incorporate standards and materials for Integrated Services paraprofessionals into bus operator and paraprofessional training as appropriate, use the Peaceful Bus Program training for bus management, and work with Human Resources to create a standardized interview questionnaire and provide leadership training to all transportation supervisors. 

Connecting with students and families and colleagues

  • To enhance communication and build relationships, Transportation staff will attend back-to-school events. Bus drivers who support students with special needs and Individualized Transportation Plans (ITP) will also contact parents/guardians to talk with them about their child’s unique needs and how best to make sure they feel safe and supported on their bus.  
  • CESO recommendation: Have bus operators and supervisors collaborate to address student behavior concerns with school administration; increase communication between Dispatch, Routing, and Planning staff; and continue monthly safety meetings. 

Video footage review requirements
Adding to PSD's policy of maintaining a minimum of three days of video footage from bus cameras, PSD Transportation supervisors are now required to review a minimum of one hour of footage weekly, with an emphasis on routes that have new staff and routes that serve students with special needs – particularly students who are pre- or non-verbal. 

  • CESO recommendation: Allocate bond money for a $1.9 million update of cameras and GPS technology on buses, review approximately one hour of video each week in a prioritized audit of bus cameras, and adopt a procedure for storing and requesting bus camera footage. 

New ways to report concerns and additional procedures
New options to make it easier for parents/guardians, students and staff to report concerns about conduct on buses are available. 

  • Parents/guardians, students and community members should report Transportation concerns to PSD’s Customer Support Center (CSC) at 970-490-3333. This line is monitored 24/7, and reports go directly to the director of Transportation. Supervisors are required to investigate and promptly communicate with the affected parties.  
  • Transportation route supervisors have been assigned to groups of schools, called feeders, and will directly communicate with the Integrated Services assistant director also assigned to the same feeder. Together, they will address staff conduct, questions or concerns from parents/guardians, and problem solving to best support students with disabilities who may be struggling.
  • To further build a culture and climate of continuous improvement, QR codes are posted in bathrooms and common workspaces within Transportation facilities so staff may anonymously report concerns to the director of Transportation. This reporting tool does not take the place of mandatory reporting; all staff who have a reasonable cause to know or suspect child abuse or neglect must make a report as required by law. 

QR code to report a transportation concern.
Use this QR code to report a concern.
  • CESO recommendation: Implement a ticketing system for incidents and inquiries with a central inbox for submitting tickets and a database for storing tickets; create an Integrated Services Transportation Manager position and hire one additional Operations Manager; document accidents, feedback, and training in a driver’s personnel file; and formalize a mandatory coaching procedure for supervisors and trainers to observe a bus operator’s daily activity. 
  • CESO recommendation: Include standard operating procedures for fleet maintenance, routing and planning, and safety and training, plus an organizational chart with position descriptions, in a revised Transportation Operations Manual. 


Human Resources Action

Reviewing practices with an external organization
PSD's HR team is actively working with Employers Council, a professional services organization that specializes in employment law, compliance, and HR practices. They work with thousands of employers across the Western U.S., including many other public entities.  

  • Employers Council is reviewing PSD’s mandatory reporter training practices to determine whether any improvements can be made. All PSD employees are mandatory reporters, under Colorado law, without exception. New PSD staff are required to take mandatory reporter training as soon as possible after they are hired. Current PSD staff are required to take the training annually thereafter. 
  • Employers Council is reviewing existing policies on nepotism, staff conduct and conflicts of interest and is working with PSD staff to include a self-reporting requirement in our policies. Adding this requirement to our policies would be brought to the board for approval, after which all current staff would be required to notify the district when they are charged with a criminal offense at any point after their hire date.

State law, federal requirements and HR practices
Following state law, federal requirements and HR best practices, PSD cannot bar access to employment solely on the basis of some misdemeanor charges. That said:

  • The PSD Board of Education has started talks with Colorado legislators about whether and how the law could be changed. We will see where this goes and are hopeful that we can work together for possible change.  
  • In PSD, we have Employers Council reviewing a hiring and background check proposal. As part of the proposal, an individual with certain misdemeanor charges that involve a child victim would not be able to work in certain positions in the district, particularly those with direct student contact, unless the employee would always be with and observed by multiple other adults while in contact with students. We must stress that this proposal is still under review to determine whether it is within the bounds of state and federal employment laws and the proposal is not yet in effect in PSD. We review background checks for every employee before they are hired to work in PSD, in accordance with applicable laws and district policies and procedures.


Moving forward

It matters that our students - and every parent and guardian - should feel like they belong and are safe whether in school or on a bus. We are committed to making tangible changes to better serve students and families.