And the Winner is……

The Cigma Well Being Award goes to Chicago-based school bus company Cook-Illinois Corporation!!!!!

Cigna is a global company and cites the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistic that employers lose over $225 million annually because of employee health problems and they created the Well-Being Award to showcase employer who go above and beyond!

Cook has gone above and beyond to ensure their companies employees are as fit as fiddles. They have a registered dietician, do annual health walks, and a fitness program! They have seen drastic changes in weight loss, overall health and less smoking!

They deserve to be recognized for their attention to their employees well being and overall health! WAY TO GO!!!!

NASDPTS Releases New Passing Survey Results

The new illegal passing survey done for the previous year has been releaseed. This survey is put on by  the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services  and its full results can be found here.

It tells us how many states take the survey, how many drivers reported, how many times they were illegally passed, etc. it tells us a lot of things but one thing you don’t see is how many of those motorists that could have killed or seriously injured a child were charged.

Ill tell you why. Less then half would be generous. Less then a quarter would be a dream! In reality less then 10% of people who illegally pass a stopped school bus with flashing red lights and a stop arm extended, ever face the consequences.

That 10% isn’t a legal number but it comes from years of experience and reading reports.  So when I say that reporting isn’t enough, I mean it! A bus company or a school can only do so much. We need more legal support and people willing to see that every report is followed up on and the every perpertraitor is charged. If not charged then at least made to watch an10 minute video on the rules of passing a school bus and the results of lputt

Praise for Unspoken Sorrow – review on Amazon

5.0 out of 5 stars
Worth the read!
Bychaseron April 15, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition

Very interesting book and until reading it I didn’t really know much about this tragedy as we
were not members of the Monticello community yet. My heart goes out to all those affected
by this horrific event. And for all Kari has endured in her life. My own kids ride Hoglund
busses daily. My one request voiced to Kari in 2009 concerning a drop-off location was
granted very graciously and I have always remembered her comment and how nice she
was about it. Thank you for your passion in working to keep our kids safe and for all your
hard work throughout the years.
Good luck with your future plans!

This is from a community member who had not even lived in Monticello, MN during the
crash but had heard about it through the grapevine. I know this accident was big news. It left a lasting impression on the community and still affects them today. As someone who was raised in Monticello and worked for Hoglund transportation I know how greatly this affected me. I appreciate that this story is able to help others who only heard the absolute worst! No one will remember the day the same way but
here is a new side to the national story. Read it.   — Haleigh

MN DPS Leads the Way

The first talk about the book, Unspoken Sorrow: Whispers From a Broken Heart takes place this month!

Kari will be presenting book and crash topics to the Shareholders group on Wednesday, May 17, 2017. Minnesota State Director of Pupil Transportation, Lt. Brain Reu, extended the invitation for the 45-minute event.  

She will be speaking to transportation operators, trainers, and other officials. Kari is looking forward to sharing the story and believes it will help increase student safety.

The talk will cover the events of April 10th, 1997, some commentary about the aftermath, and information about how those events led to the development of JAK the App. There will be ample time for attendee questions.

Public Forum

Below is an Amazon review of Kari Hoglund Kounkel’s book Unspoken Sorrow: Whispers From a Broken Heart. Kari is the creator and founder of JAK the App. The book tells her story of the tragic school bus accident in Monticello, MN in 1997. For more information about the book, visit or Unspoken Sorrow Kindle Version . Please share your thoughts on the book.

on April 13, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
The author provides an account of a community’s tragic bus accident from a perspective not many would ever get the opportunity to know about. I found this perspective interesting. The author had an administrative position with the bus company with a professional role to fulfill and yet also had a human side that she had to attempt to deal with. She too, was a member of the Monticello, MN community having been born and raised there. It’s wasn’t an easy task to separate the two roles in her life and this book explains things from her perspective. Regulations, advice from legal counsel and pending insurance issues prohibited her from discussing the details of the bus accident. Many will not understand what the author had to endure under these circumstances and she is sharing her side of the story. There is understanding within these pages. The book is only 78 pages but the information adds light to a tragic event that is very difficult to process or understand. For many, the emotional traumas of this bus accident will be life long.
Unspoken Sorrow is a story known at one point by the country. Kari brings forth her side, a view point left untold. Her sorrow left unspoken is what has driven her to become all that she is today and will result in an industry changing application. I take the voices remarking on her experience seriously and in turn they are supporting her and her right to finally, after 20 years of near silence, speak.


Field Work

An article published in School Bus Fleet’s April/May 2017 edition explained 5 ways to prepare for serious and unexpected school bus accidents and incidents.
I want to touch on the last topic they covered, donating a school bus. An old, retired school bus is not able to safely transport children to school, but it is the perfect vessel for emergency training drills! In my years working for a privately owned school bus company we ran many, many types of field training events. I always loved being a part of those training exercises and assisting in the set up. The problem was that we were not able to “damage out” a bus every few months or even every few years.
I do remember one year, we were able to have a drill with local law enforcement and fire fighters. They took our drivers through multiple exercises with the buses we had retired. It was amazing and the amount of experience and knowledge we learned from this event was priceless. Priceless, but expensive. I say this not to demean the idea or stress how hard it can be to accomplish in a small district or family owned school bus company. I say this because even though the cost was immense the reward was worth so much more. We were able to see how the officials reacted to a bus on fire and on its side. We were able to attempt to evacuate such a bus. The action of just maneuvering oneself inside a tipped bus really showed the reality of the difficulties involved in such an event. This difficulty is exacerbated if the bus is on fire or after a dramatic crash has occurred.
I wish that every district could experience such training and benefit from these personal experiences. If possible, having multiple districts work together and providing more of this type of training at regional conferences would be amazing! I love this idea and I can say from experience that it is one of the most rewarding types of field training I have witnessed.
Training is the key to a successful experience. It doesn’t matter what field, job, or sport you do. If your training is lacking then your reaction time and process in an actual event will be dismal and may not be what is best for your driver or the children involved.          –Haleigh

Securing the School Bus!

School Bus Fleet published an article in their April/May 2017 edition that flushed out 5 ways to aid in preparing for some of the scariest situations that could occur on a school bus.

The first situation depicts a hostile boarding the school bus.

These are scary, hard to tackle, and near unthinkable situations. Having your school bus boarded by anyone is unacceptable. A good result is having them leave before they are even fully boarded; a bad result ends in someone seriously hurt. I have read too many stories about parents having boarded their child’s school bus. They always have a reason and no matter the outcome it is always the same, “I was protecting my child”. The parent may not board with violent intentions and often they do it out of love and fear for their own child. But, they are blind to how they are putting every other child at risk by doing so.

I believe that JAK may aid in such a situation. JAK puts high emphasis on training and awareness! Awareness not just for the driver, but also for parents and their children. I believe that having prior knowledge of outcomes and how such a situation affects everyone involved would prompt the parents to take a different approach. At least, I hope it might. JAK would also be able to alert the parents of the other children involved and the school. The report would easily come together and the mess of such a situation can be minimized.

A parent who boards is different from an assailant. If a school bus is boarded by someone with ill intentions diffusion is still the first step, but talking about the situation may not be enough. School Bus Fleet suggests that the school district or school bus company run field exercises with professionals. This may not be a realistic suggestion based on the cost.

Regardless of what we do, this type of thing happens. It is scary, hard to tackle, and so darn near unthinkable that we often shove it to the far reaches of our minds! I don’t agree with leaving a driver ill prepared, and I know that knowledge is power. JAK aims to provide its users with both! With our focus on gathering and presenting information in effective and efficient formats, JAK is set to change the school bus industry. In doing so, we aim to reduce the risks of being unprepared.

JAK is the future, and he is here.

DATTCO Driver Saves Student

DATTCO is a family run business that puts safety first!

While school bus driver Randy Kronick was driving his usual route, DATTCO safety procedures allowed him to be prepared for the worst. Thanks to such procedures he was able to save the life of one of his young female students.

When it came time for this female student to disembark from the school bus a speeding SUV broke the law when it failed to stop for the buses flashing lights and extended stop sign. In doing so, it nearly hit the student who was saved due to Kronick’s quick thinking and reflexes while pulling the student out of the way.

No word yet on if the driver of the SUV has been caught. High praises to Kronick and the safety procedures insisted upon by DATTCO! Way to go!

Minnesota Hosts First School Bus Driver Appreciation Day!

Hats off to Minnesota school bus drivers on the 22nd of February!

Driving school bus has long been undersold as a possible career choice. While it may not be as fancy or upscale as some professions, it is at least twice as important! These people who are constantly under appreciated are finally receiving a small piece of recognition! It is not nearly enough when you consider that these citizens have dedicated their lives to making sure that our children are transported in the safest manner to school and back home.

Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said,“School bus drivers are often the first person a student interacts with every morning, and the last person they see from school in the afternoon.” The state will be hosting a press conference near the capital in the drivers honor. Several driver’s will be in attendance! Students are encouraged to send cards to their drivers to express their appreciation.

I hope to see more states following in Minnesota’s foot steps in the next few months or years!

For Phil and His Family

Yesterday a 65 year old woman was driving a van in Monticello, Minnesota, and she crossed completely over the white line. In doing so she hit and caused the death of Monticello’s very own Phillip Gregory LaVallee. Phil Graduated with me last year and he was one of the most amazing athletes I have ever seen or had the chance to know.

He said once, in an interview that one thing he thought would be kind of cool to do before he passed was to win our hometowns 5K. Earlier this summer Phil did just that! He even set a record for fastest time! I remember seeing him there and thinking, “holy cow he’s amazing”. My mother and I were excited that someone from Monticello had won this year and she remembers seeing him jogging back after finishing while she was still running. She also thought that he was amazing.

Best wishes to Phil’s family, goodness knows how hard it is to lose someone. especially someone who was so young and full of promise.

To read the original story follow the below link.
Thank You,