In a move that rocked a school district and the community and caused an uproar on social media, some of the bus drivers at the center of bus canceling from last Friday spoke out for the first time on 106.7 with Ebony Chappel and Cameron Riddle on the Open Lines Show. The interview was the first official response from the bus drivers. They are responded after a couple of days of speculation about why so many of them called off sick and caused IPS to cancel bus services on Friday morning, leaving many of the schools mostly empty due to students not being able to get transported to school.
In response, IPS Superintendent Aleesia Johnson offered a scathing critique of those bus drivers who she called “rogue” for coming together and calling off sick in retaliation for IPS switching bus contracts for the next school year.
In the interview Sunday morning, the drivers responded. The drivers wanted the public to know that IPS was not sharing all the information with the public about the changes. The drivers stated they wanted to be adequately compensated for the changes. According to the drivers who appeared on the show, IPS is not offering a separation pay. They believe IPS wants to cut them off and send them on their way.
Cameron Riddle mentioned how all but one of the school board members voted on changing the bus services. The opposing board member explained that too many issues were not clear and defined with the switching of contracts. According to a presentation by Scott Martin, Chief Operating Officer and Alessia Johnson from the January 30 Action Session, there would be a roughly a 5.8-million-dollar difference between the current contract of Durham and the new contract with First Students. IPS also cited with First Student would have new buses, student tracking systems, parent app with ETA, and that they have an excellent safety record.
Open Lines Show Co-host Ebony Chapel asked the drivers about their response to the district about the number of students who lost out on learning, testing, and meals due to the lack of transportation. The drivers responded with:
The community should know they had ample time. They knew Thursday night what was going on and some of the drivers had called off. Under the pressure and different things, it is already stressful being a bus driver. Everybody can’t come do it. They can’t come behind those vests and do what I did. Hands down. For them to say that we don’t care – we have proven we care. We’ve been there 15, 20, 30 years…the drivers in no shape form or fashion did not mean to hurt the parents or the students. Without saying parents look into the company that they gave your transportation department to. And then ask yourself, “Do they care about the transportation of your student?
IPS did release an update Sunday evening regarding the transportation status for Monday. They encouraged families to find alternative transportation and mentioned that the IndyGo was offering free rides for IPS students.