Icy conditions in the Dallas-Forth Worth, Texas, area stranded 230 Round Rock Independent School District (ISD) students, staff and chaperones before a group of eight district transportation employees hit the road to bring the teams back home late last month.
The students were in Dallas to compete in the Distributive Education Clubs of America State Career Development Conference from Feb. 25 to 27. While the students were scheduled to return to Round Rock Feb. 27, the charter bus company responsible for their travel canceled the trip due to inclement weather, forcing the group to stay an extra day and wait out the frozen conditions.
“First and foremost, it’s our job to take care of our students and staff to get them home safely,” said Fritz Klabunde, transportation director for the district. “We have a great group of drivers and I was confident anybody we asked would step up and help return our students to their parents.”
That Saturday, Klabunde drove a district Suburban that led a caravan of seven school buses along snow-covered highways from Round Rock to Fort Worth, where they picked up the students.
Bus driver Toy Jones has driven for Round Rock ISD since 2000 and jumped at the opportunity to help the stranded students.
“There’s always a little worry in the back of your mind, but I knew that we had to go because we couldn’t just leave them,” Jones said. “I felt really confident with our leadership and everything was handled really well.”
The additional drivers were Mark Ruiz, Sharron Heatherly, Doris Ward, David Haun, Wayne Schantz and Liz Rodriguez.
“The Round Rock ISD transportation team’s commitment demonstrated service above self,” said Dr. Steve Flores, superintendent of schools. “Safety is our top priority, and the actions by those drivers was evidence of how that commitment needs to come from all levels of the organization.”