Bus drivers seek answers from Channahon School Board
By Jeanne Millsap For The Herald-News June 22, 2012 12:52PM
Updated: July 25, 2012 6:34AM
CHANNAHON — It seems regulations and policies for the Channahon School District’s permanent bus drivers are defined, but some of the district’s substitute bus drivers say the same lucidity should be applied to them and to former bus drivers who have been honorably discharged.
Drivers spoke to school board members in March about issues they are having with understanding the district’s policies regarding who gets offered first choice of open driver positions and other positions that open up in the district.
Substitute driver Dawn Breen, whose husband is a school board member, said nothing was done after the drivers appeared at the meeting, nor after a closed session between her and the board.
“It just seems like the decisions are made willynilly,” Breen said. “My goal is to be able to get policy written that is clear and not give people the means to make up things as they go along.”
“Not all their policies are written down,” permanent bus driver Anne Butler said, “and they change them when they want to … I do have a problem with the way they are treating the subs. It’s very confusing.”
Butler was one of two drivers who received honorable discharges when the district cut positions due to a decrease in routes. Instituting all-day kindergarten eliminated midday routes, and Little Learners no longer are bused to and from school.
Butler said she did not receive information about recall rights until about six months after she was discharged. She said she was not offered open cafeteria positions, either, but did accept an open bus driver spot when one opened up this spring.
Breen said being in the dark about recall rights is one of the problems.
“Tell them right there and then that they have recall rights,” she said. “No one knows that. That makes a difference knowing that information.”
“If they wanted to come back,” Superintendent Karin Evans said of the discharged drivers, “the one with the highest level seniority could be recalled. One of these drivers said she was not interested in returning.”
The open kitchen positions, Evans said, were offered to drivers with the most seniority. Those bus drivers who were laid off were the ones with the least seniority.
The district does have policy regarding its bus drivers, but not necessarily for those who have been laid off or who are substitute drivers, Finance Manager and Transportation Director Mike Schroeder said.
Breen said drivers are afraid to come forward for fear of reprisals. Already, Breen said, subs have been punished by not being invited to this summer’s annual bus driver meeting.
There is no reason the district should pay for the substitute drivers to attend the summer meetings, Schroeder said, when it’s really not designed for them.
Breen said she and other drivers are planning on attending this week’s school board meeting to try to resolve their issues.