The CEO of a company that is ticketing Texas motorists who are caught on camera passing stopped school buses said that his program will continue to operate and all citations are legitimate and lawful.
In the case of the dissolution committee of Dallas County Schools, who has told ticketed motorists to disregard citations issued by the company, BusPatrol CEO Jean Souliere believes, “Dallas County Schools has chosen not to hold a citizen accountable for putting children’s lives in danger.”
“If society doesn’t think this kind of thing should be stopped, what kind of society are we?” Souliere said.
His comments come after an Austin woman, Sharon Dever, in February received a bus camera ticket in the Eanes ISD in Austin. After she was assured by Alan King, the CEO of the Dallas County Schools Dissolution Committee that the program was no longer active, she received a collections notice for the citation on letterhead with the West Lake Hills city logo on it.
“The ordinances have been passed and the collections process is compliant with those ordinances,” Souliere said. “Those tickets are issued by the local police, we cannot issue tickets. I cannot comment on the logo, but the citation is compliant.”
BusPatrol in December told school districts that it had taken over the cameras that snap a picture of motorists who pass stopped school buses in violation of state law.
Several school districts had previously signed contracts with DCS — which voters elected to dissolve in November — and Force Multiplier Solutions, to allow the cameras on their buses in exchange for a cut of the ticket fee.
But BusPatrol is not authorized to collect the money, according to the Dallas County Schools Dissolution Committee.
“…We learned that BusPatrol America has been given unauthorized access to our camera kits and in some cases removed them from your school buses,” reads a letter sent in January from the committee to school districts with contracts for the bus cameras. “This company does not have a contract with the Committee or DCS and should not be granted access to equipment owned by the Committee.”
Souliere contends his company is the legitimate owner of the intellectual property of the bus cameras and will continue to operate in Texas.
He said the committee is simply seeking to “shut it down and get as much money as possible and not thinking of the long term.”
Instead, Souliere is sure the endeavor can succeed and prosper in the right hands.
“We were also victims of Forced Multiplier and DCS,” he said. “Our investment group owned the Canadian license and we then acquired the intellectual property to protect over three years of investment. So we wait to see how this will play out.”
It will likely start with communications from lawyers of at least one Texas city.
“We do not send out collections letters,” Robert Wood, City Administrator for West Lake Hills, told The Texas Monitor.
West Lake Hills provides the court to hear contested tickets issued by the bus camera plan. The town’s police department is the law enforcement agency formally issuing the citations.
In a follow up email, Wood said, “We are…going to have a conversation with our legal counsel to see about sending a cease and desist type letter to [BusPatrol] to tell them to stop using the City’s logo and stop representing that they are working for or on behalf of the City.”
The Eanes school district said in a statement that it is, “unfortunately and unfairly, caught in the middle of a legal fight between companies and we are working with outside counsel to determine next steps. We are frustrated any citations or worse, collection notices are being issued unlawfully under our name or our jurisdictions’ names.”
The Texas Monitor reported in January that BusPatrol was meeting with school districts, trying to keep contracts signed with DCS intact and telling school districts that it was the new owner of the cameras.
BusPatrol has the same Virginia and Quebec, Canada addresses as Force Multiplier did. The Dallas address, once listed on the Force Multiplier site, is now gone. The company was dissolved in January.
Force Multiplier Solutions is implicated in a federal bribery scandal that has so far netted guilty pleas from Slater Swartwood Sr., a sales agent with Force Multiplier and former Dallas County Schools Superintendent Rick Sorrells.
DCS in 2010 contracted with Force Multiplier for the bus cameras. Prosecutors say that Sorrells opened shell companies in the names of family members to push the bribe money through.
A federal complaint charging Swartwood filed in December, says he, “sold cameras and related services for school buses…entered into various contracts and a licensing agreement with a Texas state agency acting through its superintendent…under these contracts and the licensing agreement, the state agency purchased millions of dollars of camera equipment…”
All of which has nothing to do with BusPatrol, where Souliere insists he is ready to straighten the situation out.
“These counties are issuing legitimate tickets and I am willing to sit at the table and come up with solutions to this that benefit children and taxpayers,” he said. “We wrote the check and grabbed this technology and severed all relations with Force Multiplier Solutions and ensured that this program survived. We saved a lot of people a lot of grief.”
Steve Miller can be reached at [email protected].