Donald Tudor, director of transportation for the South Carolina Department of Education, has been named SCHOOL BUS FLEET’s 2004 Administrator of the Year. He received the 31st annual award at the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) conference, held in early November in Cincinnati.
Tudor has been with the South Carolina Department of Education since 1991. He and his staff oversee the operation of approximately 5,000 buses daily. South Carolina is the only state that owns and maintains its school bus fleet.
One of Tudor’s most satisfying accomplishments was working with Lisa Strebler to pass a state law prohibiting the use of 15-passenger vans for school transportation. Strebler’s 6-year-old son, Jacob, was killed in 1994 when the school van he was riding in was rammed by a large truck in Columbia, S.C. Tudor assisted Strebler in her campaign, resulting in the passage of “Jacob’s Law” in 2000.
Dual affiliation helps
Tudor has been a staunch supporter of two of pupil transportation’s most influential organizations — NAPT and the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS), serving on the boards of both associations. He was also recently elected to the board of the NAPT Foundation.
Through his dual affiliation with NAPT and NASDPTS, he has helped the organizations work more collaboratively. He also served on the board of the Pupil Transportation Safety Institute, which has since begun working more closely with NAPT.
Tudor has also contributed his time to the National Conference on School Transportation, held every five years in Warrensburg, Mo., to create guidelines for school transportation operations and specifications for vehicles. With the 2005 conference looming, he’s serving on the editing committee to draft the language of the document.
Fighting the shortfall
Tudor dedicates much of his time to lobbying the South Carolina state government for more funds for replacement buses. The state’s aging fleet requires costly maintenance, which Tudor hopes to counteract through the procurement of new vehicles.
Before taking up the role of transportation director, Tudor worked in both urban planning and mass transit. He oversaw a regional planning council, assisted in the creation of a regional transportation authority and also held a position as the governor’s transportation policy adviser from 1979 to 1986. He eventually made his way into education in 1991, taking up his current role as transportation director.
Though technically retired, Tudor has an agreement that locks him in for an additional five years of service to the Department of Education. After his five years, he will have to retire, but he can choose to continue working under contract for South Carolina.