Special education students receive pass to a safer bus ride


This school year, the Dallas Independent School District is piloting a program to ensure more than 3,000 special education students travel on the right bus to the right location, every time.

The new Dallas Pass, also known as D-Pass for short, program is specifically geared toward students with disabilities who receive transportation services via special education bus routes. Each student is provided a specially designed electronic card that will be scanned by a card reader as they enter or exit the school bus. That data will be maintained by the district’s transportation provider, Dallas County Schools, and accessed to verify that students are on the right bus route.

“Student safety is a top priority for Dallas ISD,” said Wanda Paul, Dallas ISD chief operating officer. “And this pilot program will help us determine how we can make our transportation program safer not only for special education students, but eventually all students in general.”

The D-Pass cards, distributed to students in September, are based on widely used Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. A special electronic code that identifies the user is embedded on a chip in the card. When the card comes within close proximity to a scanner aligned with the card, the information on the card’s whereabouts is transmitted to a computer database.

For Dallas ISD special education students, this technology will not be used to actively track students. However, it will help to make sure students are riding the assigned bus, and to locate them if that doesn’t occur.

“We have no interest in tracking where individual students go every day but we want a way to pinpoint that our students are safe at all times,” Paul said. “That certainty will help both students and families.”

Dallas ISD has provided a list of answers to frequently asked questions to those involved in the pilot program. If successful, the program could be expanded to all Dallas ISD students who receive transportation services.

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