Federal safety investigators recommend school bus seat belts

Source: WGCL

A group calling itself the DeKalb County School Bus Driver Solidarity Coalition is planning to address school board members Monday afternoon, urging the district to rehire the bus drivers who were fired over last month’s three-day sick-out.

Marion Payne is one of those fired drivers.

“Some of the people passed out pamphlets. I got on the radio and said something they didn’t like, and that’s how I got brought into this whole situation,” Payne said.

He and four other fired bus drivers have hired a lawyer to fight to get their jobs back. Some of them, Payne said, didn’t realize they could get fired over the sick-out. It is against Georgia law for “public employees” to go on strike or promote a strike. In the eyes of the law, a sick-out is the same thing as a strike.

“Some of the (fired) drivers are having a hard time,” Payne said. “Some are single parents with kids.”

Payne said he’s doing little better than most, since he’s a disabled veteran with a lot of family support. He would do it all over again, he said, if it meant some of his colleagues would have a shot at better monthly retirement benefits.

“If they have 10 years, (they get) only $140,” he said. “To me, that’s just not right, and that’s one of the reasons I decided to stand up.”

The district did re-hire one of the fired bus drivers, although district officials will not say why. The other fired drivers are hoping they’ll get a second shot, too.

“All the drivers love the kids, and they would love to come back. I’m hoping for the best,” said Payne.

Monday's school board meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. at the DeKalb County School District headquarters located at 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard in Tucker. The focus of the meeting will be the 2018-2019 budget, though citizens are allowed to speak on a variety of topics during the public comments portion of the meeting.

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