GPS used to investigate speeding school bus claim

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LOS LUNAS, NM (KRQE) – A concerned parent said a speeding school bus flew past her on the highway. She claims it’s happened before, and she wants the district to do something about it to keep kids safe.

KRQE News 13 learned the school district has a way to track their bus drivers and investigate complaints like this. However, not all school districts in New Mexico have the same technology.

Los Lunas Schools told KRQE News 13, GPS on each of their school buses allows school officials to pinpoint whether a bus driver was speeding with kids on board.

Thousands of parents trust school bus drivers to keep their kids’ commute safe each day.

When Kim Roberds saw a Los Lunas school bus speed past her on the highway Monday, she said, “it’s unacceptable, I mean whoever is driving that bus has those childrens’ lives in their hands.”

Roberds claims the bus had been tailgating her, then sped past her truck going more than 60 mph in a 55 mph zone. She took her concerns to the district.

“You know, I’d like the parents out here to be aware that their kids could be in danger,” Roberds said. “So that if more of us say something, something can be done.”

KRQE News 13 asked the school about it Thursday. No one was available to go on camera, but Desi Garcia, Director of Los Lunas Schools Safety, Security and Transportation, said, “we’re always grateful when citizens are out there, concerned for the safety of our children.”

“We want our kids to be safe,” Garcia added.

Garcia said they launched an investigation, and told KRQE News 13 there is a tool the district uses that make investigations like this easy to get to the bottom of.

“We have GPS on all of our school busses and we can determine speeds at certain times and locations,” Garcia wrote in an email to Roberds and News 13. “Your concerns are important to us and this particular matter will be handled appropriately,” he added.

Los Lunas Schools is one of few districts in the state to use Zonar GPS on all of their buses. Garcia said this allows them to pin-point a driver’s location, and tell whether the bus was speeding.

But in this case, the district wouldn’t tell KRQE News 13, or Roberds what they found. “It is a personnel matter, any potential discipline will be handled appropriately,” Garcia said.

“I’m not so sure they take it seriously at all,” said Roberds. She claims this wasn’t the first time she’s seen a school bus speeding. “I just would like to know that when the children are on the bus, they’re safe.”

Garcia said Los Lunas Schools has also used GPS to clear bus drivers after similar complaints. They also use the software to see if a bus is running late, and save money on gas with shorter routes and less idle time.

At one point, the state provided funds for GPS devices on school buses, but for now, some districts spend their own money on the software.

A handful of other school districts in New Mexico, including Santa Fe schools, use GPS devices on their buses. Albuquerque Public Schools does not use GPS on their buses.

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