COLUMBUS, Ohio — Industry veteran Pete Japikse has retired from his role as Ohio’s state director of pupil transportation.
Japikse, who ended his tenure on Friday, has served in a variety of aspects of pupil transportation for 32 years, holding positions at school district and contractor operations as well as at the state level.
“Please know that I sincerely appreciate and recognize the strength and commitment of the society that collectively provides outstanding transportation services for our students on a daily basis, and under some of the most challenging circumstances possible,” he said in a note to colleagues. “It has been my pleasure to work in a role where I was able to support and assist you in these endeavors.”
Japikse’s career in pupil transportation began when he got a job with a school bus contractor in Cincinnati while working on his master’s degree. He served as a part-time accountant, dispatcher and substitute bus driver.
He went on to work for a number of Ohio school districts before becoming state director in 2000, a role in which he was credited for his tireless efforts to support school bus operations and education agencies across the state.
Terry Conley, deputy superintendent for the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center in Marion, told SBF that Japikse is “one of the most knowledgeable, approachable and dependable individuals with which I have ever worked.”
Conley, who has responsibilities for school bus driver training and certification in his area, gave an example of a time when Japikse came to his office to work through an issue with him and his staff.
“He comes in and sits down at the computer and walks you through it step by step. He is a teacher,” Conley said. “He told us what we have to do and why we have to do it. It’s hard to find an executive at that level who is willing to come out and work with you like that.”
In fact, while Japikse’s office was at the state Department of Education, he spent at least half of his time out in the field.
On the national level, Japikse served as president of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, and he was instrumental in forming the American School Bus Council.
In 2010, he was named SCHOOL BUS FLEET’s 37th Administrator of the Year.
After taking a short break, Japikse will begin a new role with the Ohio School Boards Association in which he says he will “continue working with the great people in this business.”
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