GPS Fraud, Waste & Abuse Report #14: School Bus SNAFUs

Parents of Gilbert Public Schools students got a wake-up call a couple of weeks ago. Allegedly, just before national School Bus Safety Week (during which GPS was closed for fall break), Oscar, a GPS bus driver, terrified teenagers by telling them there was a bomb on board. After all students evacuated  the bus, Oscar allegedly announced he was just kidding. This was in addition to what happened when Oscar apparently deviated from the usual bus route (which the students knew well); Oscar allegedly told the kids he was kidnapping them all.

When Good Old Oscar returned to the bus barn, Paul Potts, the GPS Director of Transportation, allegedly reassigned Oscar to a different bus route, hoping to  make the mess go away. Looks like Paul Potts also was hoping the kids would not tell their parents about the events of the day.

These facts are *alleged* because the Gilbert Police Department found out about the fake bomb incident and trooped down to GPS the next day, apparently opening an official police investigation as to why in the world the situation was not reported as a crime. Maybe the kids told their parents what transpired on Oscar’s bus. Police officers allegedly were not amused that Paul Potts had simply reassigned Oscar following what GPS should have reported as a felony bomb threat, whether or not the bomb was fake. Apparently, Potts had no recourse at that point, so he allegedly sent Oscar home to await the results of a *joint* GPD/GPS investigation.

This incident certainly should have been a wake-up call for new GPS superintendent Shane McCord. It seems that while waiting for Good Old Shane to take the reins of the school district he abandoned when the going got tough a few years back, the new wannabe Good Old Boys who perhaps hope to ascend to the ranks of the Loose Zipper Brigade were backsliding to the good old days when GPS was run like a mob family.  It appears that over-zealous and incompetent underlings created a mell of a hess for their *new* boss.

First, protecting Oscar as his first impulse was simply the way things have been done in the GPS transportation department since Paul Potts was bequeathed his job by his outgoing pal Jay Morris. If you want to know the details, ask Paul Potts … apparently he loves to talk about himself and how he got his job. The key detail here is that Oscar is male. Apparently, Paul Potts has two standards for his employees based on their gender. It appears that manly men are so indispensable in a school district that’s been short of bus drivers for the past several years, Paul Potts glosses over any potential trouble those men may encounter. Just switch their routes if they encounter troublemakers like parents or school principals: there, it’s fixed!

The second standard Paul Potts has for some of his employees apparently stems from misogynistic beliefs about women in traditionally male jobs in his realm: “Get them out of here!” To bring about his misguided vision of bus barn utopia, Paul Potts apparently has created quite an unwelcoming work environment for women. For example, there’s the long tradition of calling women by *endearing* nicknames as a time-honored way to belittle members of the gentler sex. Why learn women’s names if they’re on the way out the door that Paul Potts is holding open? Paul Potts apparently hasn’t learned that there’s an ASS whenever there is sexual harASSment in the workplace. Boys will be boys, right, GPS?

The GPS Top Dogs, who apparently recognized a kindred spirit and potential loose zipper acolyte in Paul Potts, hired him before Shane McCord was officially named GPS superintendent. That’s only a supposition; it’s quite believable that the Top Dogs consulted Shane McCord as to his preferences and recommendations long before his *triumphant* return to GPS.  And given the jobs now held by members of the Loose Zipper Brigade who remained in GPS, Paul Potts must have been viewed as a “good fit” worthy of hire.

Details are now trickling out about the sex and age discrimination lawsuit that the GPS board saw fit to settle just before hiring Shane McCord, which is even more revealing of the lengths to which the inmates would go as they took over the asylum that is GPS. In case you want to know more about the so-called confidential settlement of that lawsuit, you know how Westie loves to share. Here it is. As always, the devil is in the details that GPS hopes to keep hidden, but you can bet that GPS has spent a million dollars on legal fees for just the lawsuits that Westie knows about. That’s money that could have been used for educating students, but sigh, most GPS board members don’t like listening to Westie.

Connecting the dots to Paul Potts and his nefarious gender-based management style, GPS can expect some very pointed inquiries from state and federal agencies that are best known by their acronyms. Fines and lawsuits could well be on the horizon for GPS … again. This time it won’t be simple illegal employment actions, although it’s painfully obvious that Slimebucket Suzanne Zentner and her lieutenants have absorbed Shane McCord’s dastardly lessons in mismanagement. This debacle will be far larger.

This time, student safety is the main issue. When GPS allows kids to stand in the aisles on the school bus, laws are violated. When GPS crowds students onto school bus seats and overloads the safe capacity of the bus, laws are violated. When GPS principals allow parents’ vehicles to transit bus loading areas at their schools, student safety becomes more than just a policy that’s violated.

Apparently, the Top Dogs figure that in the case of an entirely preventable accident, they can blame the lowly bus drivers who barely make enough money for day-to-day survival. After all, Top Dogs and their principal pals consider themselves the elite and they’re making sure they all get hefty paydays and other perks of being downright awesome.

In a spirit of cooperation because some of this bad situation predates his presence, let’s make this an open letter to Shane McCord: Dude, perhaps you should figure out why such low-level GPS transportation employees are bringing down the wrath of the Arizona Department of Public Safety on the district. Hint: it has to do with a transportation director who uses bus driver certificates as weapons when his women employees are insufficiently subservient. Or worse. Why in the world do you let that guy Paul Potts keep the GPS chain of command in the dark as he intimidates and retaliates against women employees, in other words, doing the dirty work?

It might be different if Paul Potts were telling the truth when he reported safety infractions, but he doesn’t, if his track record is an indication. Making false reports to government agencies is serious business, and it results in more than just giving drivers’ certificates back to them when the falsities come to light. If you don’t know how many drivers have been caught in such a morass since Paul Potts appeared on the scene, Shane, you’re being willfully blind. Again.

Shane, you should know that Paul Potts has his own school bus driver training company, an LLC in good standing right now. Question: how does Paul Potts train bus drivers for entities other than GPS when he should be on duty with GPS? It’s not like he could do all that training at night, is it? Maybe Paul Potts sets up training for those other folks on GPS premises while he’s on his break time. Additionally, how in the world would a guy like Paul Potts be allowed to let a couple of his buddies *borrow* GPS school buses for unspecified purposes? There’s plenty more to look into. But don’t shuffle it over to Good Old Jim Lockwood, whose specialty is sweeping things under the carpet for GPS. Jim Lockwood seems to like the conclusion, “I don’t think Employee X meant to be as offensive as he/she was, so I am closing my investigation.” Pay attention to parent complaints about this guy, Shane.

Maybe private clients of Paul Potts are getting better training than GPS bus drivers get. Yeah, the quality of GPS transportation training might become a big, big issue when a foreseeable accident occurs, whether it involves students or *just* employees. Shane, you might want to make sure GPS properly trains those bus drivers whose duties now include tasks formerly reserved for trained mechanics. You might need to be sure the GPS employees performing those tasks are physically able to do what Paul Potts has them doing.

The safety of GPS students is at stake.

GPS really, really needs a system for accepting whistle blower reports and properly responding to them. That might cut down on the reports to acronym agencies due to the GPS void. But Westie has been saying that for years. Sigh. You could have had Westie for superintendent.

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