Wake Co. bus drivers’ protest strands students

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Wake Schools said some bus drivers were absent Friday afternoon due to an ongoing pay debate, affecting students in five of the county’s districts.

The district confirmed a 3-percent pay increase that was supposed to be in their paycheck wasn’t there.

“So, when we got paid today, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Spencer Jenkins, one of the drivers who called out Friday afternoon.

A spokeswoman for Wake County schools said all drivers should be getting that money in the form of a check next week.  On Saturday, the bus drivers agreed to return to work on Monday.

“As soon as we were aware, before the children had been released from school, we started to notify those parents. And so we’ve sent home phone calls to all of those parents to let them know and we’ve provided them with updates throughout the afternoon,” said Wake Schools spokeswoman Lisa Luten.

Some students and parents said they were frustrated by the drivers’ decision to drop them off at school in the morning and not pick them up in the afternoon.

“I’m moreso upset about how the bus drivers decided to do this,” said Lakia McNair, who son goes to Dillard Drive Middle School. “I just feel like you’ve got to find a smarter way to make a point, and this was not a smart way to make a point.”

Some students experienced delays as much as 90 minutes in getting home. The districts affected include: Rolesville, Broughton, Garner, Enloe and Sanderson. The district told parents there would be delays at some but not all of the schools in those districts.

Luten said a “small number” of bus drivers participated in Friday’s walk-out.

Wake schools expect drivers to be back Monday, but Jenkins said there is still an issue to resolve.

He says drivers want to be guaranteed six hours of work each day. When WNCN asked him if drivers will be back Monday, he said, “We’ll see.”

Jenkins said he and some of the other drivers wanted to take time this weekend to discuss what to do next.

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