Samantha Sonnichsen New Director of Transportation
A well-known face at the DMPS Prospect Building will become the new director of transportation, pending school board approval. Samantha Sonnichsen is currently serving as interim director since May of 2022.
Sonnichsen oversees a team of more than 70 drivers, and 50 bus associates, plus dispatchers, specialists, shop personnel and more. She became the district’s transportation manager in 2021 and took over director duties last May with the departure of LaShone Mosley, who left the district to pursue other opportunities.
“With her experience and dedication, Sam Sonnichsen is well-positioned to lead the transportation department and make positive changes that benefit the entire DMPS community,” said interim Superintendent Matt Smith. “Her team is charged with safely delivering 14,000 students each day to and from their schools, which Sam does with an unmatched energy and dedication to the job.”
Sonnichsen started her career in transportation in August of 2013 as a part-time bus driver, special needs coordinator and dispatcher for First Student in Gresham, Oregon. She quickly became a go-to asset for First Student, where her duties were expanded to cover transportation safety, and then location management in both Gresham and Sandy, Oregon. She served as a floating manager for the region, and assistant location manager for four years in Portland before coming to Des Moines Public Schools in 2021.
“I am committed to serving each student’s transportation needs and forging strong connections with the people who have some of the most important jobs in the district, which is safely transporting students ranging in grade from preschool to high school,” said Sonnichsen. “As the first and last individuals our bus-riding students encounter each day, the responsibility of bus drivers and associates is immense. Our team meets the challenge every day with safety first in mind.”
While many school districts contract their bus services, DMPS owns, repairs, and operates more than 130 yellow school buses. Drivers cover 120 bus routes, driving 650 individual bus runs each day. Altogether, our buses travel more than 1.6 million miles annually and have an exemplary safety record.