BRAZIL, Ind. (WTHI) - Clay County schools are driving towards a bus controversy. In a special meeting Thursday night drivers spoke out against a change in the bus driver handbook they said affects their jobs. While the school corporation said they don’t want drivers taking extended periods of unpaid leave.
The discussion at Thursday night's meeting pitted the school corporation against its bus drivers.
Here's where the school corporation and the bus drivers disagree. Right now there is no limit to the number of unpaid leave days bus drivers take.
On the school corporation's side, they say they want to hold bus drivers to the same employment contract they hold for teachers and aides. That standard is: no extended unpaid leave when personal and sick days have run out.
The superintendent said in the past some bus drivers have requested to take a week of unpaid leave to go on vacation during the school year; something that even teachers aren't allowed to do.
The new policy would give them two unpaid leave days where they could be written up, and on the third incident, they'd be dismissed.
On the other side bus drivers say they need those unpaid leave days to be available in case of family emergencies and, in some circumstances, to work other jobs to supplement their income.
"I’ve never abused taking off of work in 25 years, don't plan on doing it now,” clay County Bus Driver Leann Rhodes said.
“But if something does come up I do not want to have to feel the pressure of making a decision: 'do I walk away from my job or do I take care of my family or my personal needs?'"
The superintendent of Clay County schools said this policy is not a result of abuse of sick or bereavement time.
She said in those cases the school corporation always wants to work with its employees. The goal of their change in policy is to make sure they weren't leaving Clay County students with a substitute bus driver that parents aren't familiar with for an extended period of time because of vacation or another job.
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