DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Several DeKalb County school bus drivers have been fired after calling out of work on Thursday as part of a planned three-day 'sick out.'
Some 400 drivers are seeking more pay, better retirement benefits and better treatment.
Channel 2 Action News has obtained a letter sent to at least 7 district drivers saying they've been fired over the 'sick-out'
Sick out fallout. Several DeKalb County bus drivers who took part in today’s strike say they’ve been fired. An officer delivered this letter to a driver today. Drivers say this is retaliation and meant to intimidate them back to work. @wsbtv pic.twitter.com/GGMrW0G3mB— Carl Willis (@CarlWillisWSB) April 20, 2018
The letter said, "it is unlawful for you to encourage, promote, or participate in strike activity," and is signed by DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Dr. R. Stephen Green.
The district sent out a statement late Thursday evening saying, in part:
"The district delivered letters to the seven employees this afternoon terminating their employment with DCSD. While the district does not discuss specific personnel matters, the employees were among a group found to actively support or encourage bus drivers not to report to work."
“We have been clear from the beginning. We will keep an open dialogue with employees provided they work collaboratively and keep our children safe by reporting to work. Unfortunately, some employees chose another route, and that carries serious consequences,” Green said in a news release Thursday night.
DeKalb County Schools officials say about 42 percent of their drivers did not show up for work Thursday.
Channel 2’s Lori Wilson was outside Tucker High School during dismissal time Thursday afternoon when no buses showed up to take students home.
Parent Barry Murphy said he was prepared for the school bus to not show up.
“DeKalb called and left a voicemail and said that there was a bus issue and there might be a delay in the morning,” Murphy told Wilson. “We were ready.”
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“For those bus drivers who opted not to come to work today, you have willingly put our students in harm’s way,” DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Dr. R. Stephen Green said.
Green said the administration learned about the planned sick out from drivers who did not want to participate.
Green said those who didn't come to work will be required to provide a doctor's note, or they could be suspended, even terminated.
“I understand that there's probably a pay issue, but even with that, the parents appreciate them so much,” Murphy told Wilson.
“To those bus drivers who came to work today, I applaud, and I appreciate you,” Green said.
DeKalb schools sent a letter home to parents apologizing for any inconvenience.
The letter warned parents that if their child was a bus rider, to “expect a 60 to 90-minute delay for the afternoon bus routes. There could also be possible delays to and from afternoon athletic events.”
The letter went on to say the district’s “top priority is safety and getting your children to and from school safely.”
The district said they are working with other local districts to provide temporary drivers to get students to school on Friday.
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