By Steve Sbraccia
Wake Schools' head of transportation and facilities announced Monday that he will resign from his position amid the start of a school year that has been plagued by busing problems.
Don Haydon, who oversees transportation and facilities for the Wake County Public School System, will take paid leave from Sept. 18 until Dec. 31, at which point he will officially resign.
Haydon makes $150,666 annually, according to the Raleigh Public Record. He is the third-highest paid employee of the Wake school system.
“There’s no question in my mind he was pushed,” said former school board member Beverley Clark.
She’s talking about Don Haydon, the school system’s facilities and transportation chief.
“He was retired from the military; not a former educator and had worked for two other school systems before he came to Wake County,” she explained.
In her ten years on the Wake County School Board, Clark came to see Haydon’s work from an inside perspective.
“He brought a very ethical of view and a great understanding that it all work together,” she said.
The school system isn’t saying why Haydon suddenly resigned.
School board member Chris Malone told NBC-17 he's interested in knowing why Haydon suddenly quit and said that he wished Haydon had stayed.
Malone thought Haydon had “done a good job, by and large.”
“I’m sick over it; I’m very, very upset over it,” said Lynn Edmonds with Great Schools for Wake.
Asked if she thought Haydon was a scapegoat for last month’s busing debacle, she said, “yes I do.”
“This was Tony Tata’s plan,” she said. “I was in those meetings when the transportation dept was presenting their information; they had concerns and I don’t think their advice was heeded.”
School board member John Tedesco disagrees saying, he doesn’t believe Haydon was pushed out.
And though Haydon was transportation chief; his defenders say responsibility for the busing problems this year needs to be spread around.
“Last week we heard Mr. Tata says the buck stopped with him;
Apparently he’s changed his mind and push the buck down a bit,” claims Beverley Clark.
Parents erupted in frustration as buses were late as traditional schools were back in session starting Aug. 26. Since the start of the school year, parents have been reporting lost bus drivers, late buses and buses missing their stops. Parents and children are also concerned about overcrowding on buses.
Haydon had said one of the problems that led to the busing issues was that Wake Schools tried to save money by cutting dozens of buses, and dropped from three days of training for bus drivers to just one day.
The school system reduced its fleet this year to try to save money and meet efficiency standards.
Transportation staff later added 34 buses back into the system, including seven in Apex. The additional buses come after the system received thousands of complaints about the buses being late.
With the extra buses, that means there are 915 buses this year for 151,000 students. The number of buses on the road is down from last year, when there were 932 buses for 146,000 students.
At the start of the school year, there were about 48 fewer buses on routes from the previous year.