John Green first became involved in pupil transportation as a school bus driver nearly 40 years ago. As he prepares to retire from his state director position, he discusses his career with SBF.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — When John Green starting working as a school bus driver after graduating high school in 1971, he had no idea that he was embarking on a long career in pupil transportation.
On Dec. 30, he will retire as California’s state director of pupil transportation, a position he has held for more than 13 years.
As he began driving a school bus after high school, Green attended junior college and planned to go into law enforcement.
Later, he landed a position as a school bus driver instructor for an agency in Santa Clara, Calif. He also became a reserve deputy sheriff.
In 1979, Green joined the California Highway Patrol (CHP), where he worked in school bus safety as well as farm labor. He was eventually offered a position as an instructor coordinator by the California Department of Education (DOE). Interestingly, he worked simultaneously for the DOE and the CHP for a time before going full time to the DOE in the mid-1990s.
In 1997, when Ron Kinney left as supervisor of the DOE’s Office of School Transportation (the position that is designated as state director of pupil transportation), Green was named to the role.
In an interview with SBF, Green reflected on his time in the industry. He said that although he didn’t originally plan to stay in pupil transportation, it proved to be a fulfilling career.
Among the accomplishments he’s proudest of, Green cited his role in guiding the implementation of California’s lap-shoulder belt requirement for school buses. He also helmed a needed revision of the state’s school bus behind-the-wheel guide.
Green’s office developed a school bus security program before 9/11, and he later presented it to other states.
Perhaps most of all, Green said that he’s proud of his staff and the job they do in training California’s many driver instructors and others involved in pupil transportation.
“I have a wonderful staff,” Green said. “In this unit, there’s 10 of us, including myself. We figure there’s about 27,000 to 28,000 licensed school bus drivers in California and about 1,200 certified instructors. So it’s a very extensive training network.”
A search for a new supervisor of the Office of School Transportation is underway. Green said he hopes his replacement will be named before he leaves at the end of the month.
His decision to retire came “after much reflection and weighing of options,” he said.
“I have known and worked with many exceptional people who also share my passion for the important work we do and work tirelessly in the pursuit of school transportation safety,” Green said. “The friendships, the professionalism and even the battles will be missed.”