School Days

Protesting HISD bus drivers show little remorse over leaving school kids stranded in the cold

Protesting bus drivers show little remorse over leaving kids stranded

HISD bus drivers leave students in cold during protest January 2014
HISD bus drivers on protest. Photo by Andrew Horansky/KHOU 11 News

Dozens of Houston ISD students were left waiting in Thursday's freezing temps for bus drivers who didn't show up for work in a protest with district officials over pay grievances in a strange turn of events as HISD officials had scheduled, then postponed, a hearing to address those complaints that very day.

About 150 drivers skipped worked, leaving 40 bus routes out of nearly 1,000 completely unstaffed. Substitute drivers and double-duty schedules for others safely delivered students to their respective schools about 15 minutes late, district officials report.

"If it was my kid, I wouldn't want them out there in the cold. But at the end of the day I've got to do what's gonna help me too."

Hundreds of HISD bus drivers have filed a grievance report with the district, seeking compensation when they were not paid as the district closed for two days in the 2013-14 school year due to inclement weather. HISD officials had scheduled a 9:30 a.m. grievance hearing for the drivers on Thursday, "so that the drivers would have time to complete their morning routes," a district statement released that day states.

"Late Wednesday night, more than 100 drivers notified the district that they did not intend to report for duty on Thursday morning because of the hearing," the statement continues. "District officials then decided Wednesday night to postpone Thursday's hearing to avoid disruptions to students' pickup schedules. The district then made late-night phone calls to drivers who had said they would not report for duty to notify them that the grievance hearing was being rescheduled."

Thus, Thursday morning, the coldest day of the year in Houston so far, the cold-weather crisis happened.

The statement concludes, "HISD respects the rights of all employees and has created a grievance process that is intended to ensure that the important work of educating children continues uninterrupted."

"If it was my kid, I wouldn't want them out there in the cold. But at the end of the day I've got to do what's gonna help me too," HISD bus driver Leisa Glenn tells KHOU Ch. 11. "I have to live. All the bus drivers have to live."