By Victor Skinner
INDIANAPOLIS – About 80 bus drivers serving Indianapolis Public Schools took their frustrations over unemployment benefits out on students last week and left about 12,000 kids temporarily stranded with no ride home.
District officials said they called in backups after learning around noon Friday that employees of Durham School Services, the district’s bus contractor, didn’t make their routes, FOX59 reports.
Officials with Durham blamed the problem on the state.
“State changes to unemployment benefits are the cause behind employee frustration. Durham has no control over determinations made by the state. We support our employees in obtaining unemployment benefits,” the company said in a statement.
“It is unfortunate some bus drivers are not showing up for work and putting their interests ahead of the well-being of the students.”
“Unfortunate” seems like an understatement.
IPS officials sent a recorded message to parents across the district, who told Fox59 they were forced to leave work unexpectedly to pick their children up from school.
The confusion should never have happened. IPS signed a 5-year, $15 million deal with Durham in 2010 for 250 daily routes and other supplemental transportation.
We find it hard to believe that Durham had no warning of the problems with employee unemployment, and should have taken a pro-active approach to address the issue before it became a serious problem.
Bus drivers who took their frustrations out on students should be fired, regardless of their reasoning, and replaced with professionals who take their responsibilities more seriously.
IPS officials should also consider other busing options, or a clause in their contract that guarantees a refund or allows them to opt for another contractor, to prevent this sort of thing from happening again.