TOPEKA, Kan. — After 45 years of working to make pupil transportation safer, Wilma Crabtree will retire from the Kansas State Department of Education (DOE) later this month.

As senior administrative assistant for the Kansas DOE’s School Bus Safety Unit, Crabtree has been involved in projects that impact pupil transportation in Kansas and across the nation.

Most prominently, Crabtree has spearheaded the national survey of school bus loading and unloading fatalities since the early 1980s. That survey has been credited with raising awareness of the school bus danger zone and aiding in training efforts.

“I strive to make the survey report both accurate and easy to understand, and I take it very seriously,” Crabtree told SBF for a profile in 2013. “Each time I receive a report of a student fatality, it breaks my heart.”

Crabtree’s career started in 1970 in the safety department of the Kansas State Department of Transportation. That division transferred to the DOE in 1994.

In addition to the annual loading/unloading survey, Crabtree’s duties have included maintaining a vast “lending library” of safety videos for Kansas school districts; compiling a Listserv to disseminate school transportation information; and working with the Kansas State Pupil Transportation Association for its conferences and other events.

In the SBF profile, Crabtree said that her top achievement in her career has been “knowing that student transportation is safer now than when I started in this job.”

She will officially retire from the Kansas DOE on March 27, although she will return to work part-time in June.

A retirement reception for Crabtree will be held at the Kansas DOE board room in Topeka on March 27 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Crabtree's longtime School Bus Safety Unit colleague Debbie Romine also recently retired, with plans to return this month in a part-time role.

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