JONESBORO, Ga. — Clayton County Public Schools (CCPS) bus drivers David O’Keeffe and Jacquelyn Turner placed first in the 2010 State Special Needs Roadeo and will go on to represent their school district and their state at the 2010 National Special Needs Team Safety Roadeo in Orlando, Fla., on Saturday.

“This was the first time Clayton County Public Schools hosted the competition, and there was a lot of enthusiasm from dozens of volunteers who donated their time to support the event," said John Lyles, director of transportation. “We are proud of our teams and the confirmation of the district’s commitment to safely transporting our students.”

The traditional roadeo course included a unique twist: adults acting as challenging student passengers. This served to judge how effectively teams handled students with emotional disabilities when they act out on the bus. 

“The most difficult part of the competition was the emergency evacuation drill,” O’Keeffe said. “You are judged on your ability to make a split-second decision.”

Participants were not informed of the circumstances of the emergency evacuation drill until the day of the competition. This year, the task was to safely evacuate four special-needs children in two minutes while water was coming into the bus. O’Keeffe and Turner earned a perfect score on this portion of the competition.

CCPS also had a second team place in the top five in the state competition — bus drivers Paulette Raper and Angie Dorris placed fifth.

All four drivers practiced extensively for the competition, training two to three hours per day on various drills when they were not on assigned routes. Drivers and monitors were allowed only 30 minutes of practice time per day on the roadeo course.

The teams expect the national roadeo to be tougher since it is a competition among all of the top teams in the country. “Judging will be more intense and teams will have to provide more detail,” Raper said. “You have to tell them everything you are doing.”

O’Keeffe, Turner, Raper and Dorris have more than 60 years of bus driving experience among them.

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