LaTania Davis is one of Houston-based Spring Independent School District’s auxiliary (aka substitute) drivers. Under transportation department policy, employees must be a full-time bus driver for at least one year before they can apply for a substitute position.
Certain requirements must be met
Not only is it beneficial for drivers to have certain characteristics to help them handle the responsibilities associated with a substitute position, at some districts, they must meet certain criteria before they can apply for or be considered for the position.
At both Spring ISD and Cypress-Fairbanks ISD (also in Houston), bus drivers must be employed by the district for at least one year before they are eligible to become a substitute driver. (At Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, front-line or full-time subs are classified as charter drivers.)
Cypress-Fairbanks ISD Director of Transportation Bill Powell says the candidates must also have acceptable attendance.
Weisinger says Spring ISD’s auxiliary drivers have to be a full-time driver for at least one year so that they can gain knowledge of the district and how it’s run. It also enables Weisinger to get to know the employee.
“[In the past], I’ve had sub drivers who were new employees, and they weren’t full time,” he says. “I find more comfort in having my sub drivers already trained and seasoned veterans on the road working with these kids. If you have new employees coming into the substitute pool, the chances of them making a mistake is increased because they don’t have the experience.”
Substitute driver positions at MPS are posted as the need for them arises, and Latko says it is imperative that the individuals who apply for the positions have the necessary district training, including certifications, to be considered.
The department’s training program exceeds the state’s requirements by approximately triple the amount of time required in the classroom and behind the wheel.
Additionally, all drivers (including substitutes) are required to have “MPS certifications.”
As an example, Latko says that if a “driver of a Type A bus wants to start doing field trips and hasn’t driven a Type C or D in more than six months, they must be recertified to MPS standards. Or, if a regular-education bus driver successfully bids for a special-education route, they must take two days of special-education driver training for their MPS certification in special-education driving.”
At Moorpark (Calif.) Unified School District, sub drivers must be available on an on-call basis.
“We attempt to give them as much notice as possible,” Director of Transportation Tony Briscoe says of assigning them to routes or trips. “If they regularly turn down assignments, they are removed from the substitute list. As a substitute driver, they’re not eligible to do field trips unless our entire permanent driving staff has declined the trip. They are not assigned to a route unless we have a permanent employee out on long-term leave.”