Lee County school bus drivers facing punishment for Monday absence

Reporter: Breana Ross Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
(Credit: WINK News)

Lee County school’s east zone recovering from 83 bus drivers calling out sick Monday. On Tuesday, Lee County’s east zone only had 13 drivers out.

That sick-out left many parents frustrated and scrambling to pick their kids up from school, with some unable to get them there in the first place.

A lot of parents who normally wouldn’t pick up their kids did so on Monday because of the bus driver sick-out.

The sick-out is over, but the stress of what happened still sticks with some parents.

On Tuesday, it was business as usual again at east zone bus compounds. Dozens of bus drivers were back behind the wheel.

But the uncertainty from Monday’s sick out still lingers with Lee County parent Sheilanjellie Torres King. She doesn’t have her own car and she said Monday’s sick-out forced her to keep her kids home again on Tuesday. “I couldn’t go through the hassle at the time. Right now I have another son here as well. And it’s just, it’s a lot in the mornings. So I just kept her home today.”

Torres King said she feels for the drivers who are overwhelmed by the shortage, but she worries her daughter won’t have a ride to school if drivers don’t show up again. “I mean, I did have issues before getting her to school, and we had to arrange for a bus to pick her up,” said Torres King.

Lee County schools say parents don’t have to worry about another strike or sick out. Rob Spicker, a spokesperson for Lee County schools, told WINK News the district will address drivers’ concerns about working conditions and pay. Then the district will hold the drivers who didn’t drive on Monday as scheduled accountable.

“We will look into potential discipline against some of those drivers who organized it because it’s a contract violation and a violation of the law so that’s one thing I would tell the parents is this isn’t the kind of behavior that is tolerated and it is not allowed so we are going to try to put a stop to it that way,” said Spicker.

Punishment can range from a written reprimand to termination. It all depends on drivers’ disciplinary records.

The president of the support staff union who represents those bus drivers told WINK News she does not condone the driver sick-out, but drivers are tired and the district needs to treat them better.

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