Huillet has worked on key developments to enhance school bus maintenance and safety, including a certification program for technicians to conduct annual inspections.
SALEM, Ore. — With more than 25 years in pupil transportation under his belt, Oregon state director Steven Huillet is set to retire Jan. 1.
Huillet told SBF this week that his last day in the office at the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) will be Dec. 27. But he will remain involved in the school bus industry, which he has long held a passion for.
"If I had my way, all students would be on school buses," he said. "When you get into [school bus transportation], you either believe in it or you don't. I believe in it."
Huillet began his school transportation career as a mechanic and driver for Central School District in Independence, Ore., in 1986.
In 1998, he took a supervisor position across the Cascade Mountains at Sisters School District, and he earned behind-the-wheel training and Department of Motor Vehicles third-party tester certificates from the ODE.
While supervising at Sisters School District, Huillet also taught two high school automotive classes per day. The students did a complete frame-off restoration of a 1969 Chevelle, which they gave away in a raffle that brought in $12,500 to help fund the automotive program's future.
In 2003, Huillet took a program analyst position with the ODE pupil transportation section. About six years later, he was promoted to the director position for pupil transportation and fingerprinting.
During his tenure at the ODE, Huillet has worked on key developments to enhance school bus maintenance and safety in Oregon.
He helped write a new maintenance and inspection manual for technicians to use in annual school bus inspections. He also developed a testing program for technicians to become ODE-certified to complete the annual inspection and work on school buses.
"Every technician in Oregon must now be certified to work on and complete the annual inspections," Huillet said. With no state police inspection of school buses and the ODE only conducting spot inspections every six years, those self-inspections are critical, he added.
The certification process entails an open-book, written test in which technicians have to score at least 80% to pass.
"The idea is that they understand how the maintenance inspection manual works," Huillet said.
Huillet has represented Oregon in the National Congress on School Transportation since the 2005 edition, and he is currently still on the school bus specifications writing committee.
He also served on the board of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) from 2010 to this year as the western states representative.
In January, Huillet will begin working for NASDPTS as its administrative support services provider, replacing Rod McKnight. On Nov. 15, McKnight joined Washington state's Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction as Region 1 (southwest Washington) regional transportation coordinator.
"We are delighted to have someone with his broad range of experience to provide service to the districts in that region," Washington state director Allan Jones said of McKnight.
As of press time, Huillet's successor as Oregon state pupil transportation director had not yet been named.