INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) canceled bus services for all of Friday because too many drivers called off. We’re told the reason is because they’re concerned their jobs will be outsourced.
The school district released this message Friday morning:
“Due to driver call offs we are unable to run our regular school bus routes in a safe and efficient manner today. Schools will remain open however, students not able to attend school will not be marked absent. We apologize for this inconvenience.”
IPS spokesperson Carrie Black told CBS4 they notified parents and staff about the transportation issue and logistics for the school day had to be adjusted.
IPS announced just before 11 a.m. there will not be afternoon bus services either.
Dave Robertson is the executive director for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council, which is a hub that reps all AFCSME unions, including the one that reps IPS bus drivers.
Robertson says bus drivers called off today because they are upset with allegations IPS has been working on outsourcing bus services without communicating it to the union.
AFSCME International Vice President Steven Quick said if IPS outsources their bus services, more than 100 people would lose their jobs.
The council tells us they understand the drivers’ frustrations, but do not agree with some of their decisions to call off work because it affects over 30,000 students and their families.
They say the main goal now is finding a way to get bus drivers back to work, so kids can get back to school.
“So we’re going to be meeting with IPS this morning, and we’re going to try and find where their real issues are and try and get things resolved so we can get kids back to school is what our goal is,” Quick said.
IPS Superintendent Alessia Johnson held a press conference at noon Friday, admonishing what the school system is calling "rogue employees."
“We strongly condemn the actions of these rogue employees who chose to make the decision. Despite the guidance of their union leadership to not move forward with these actions," said Johnson.
Johnson added, “Their lack of concern for the safety of students elementary through high school in the middle of winter is disappointing."
According to IPS, 95 bus drivers and monitors called off, out of around 550 drivers and monitors in total. There are a total of 305 routes in the morning and evening, and all have been suspended for the day.
IPS said there are around 32,000 IPS students in total, with around 22,000 students who ride the bus. Only about 14,000 students attended school Friday.
More from IPS Superintendent Alessia Johnson:
"Academic instruction is being delayed, field trips have been canceled and school performances are being rescheduled. These drivers should not put their discontentment on the backs of our students and our working families. We along with the AFSCME union leadership and its employees are asking that all employees who participated in today’s incident consider the impact of their decision. We are working to resolve the situation as soon as possible, so that we can return to normal transportation."
AFSCME Council 962 provided the following statement:
"AFSCME Council 962 was made aware this morning of the numerous driver call-off’s that led to the disruption of school transportation services today. The leaders of our affected locals assured us that there was no union endorsed effort to disrupt operations. AFSCME 962 and our local presidents stand behind their commitment to serve their communities and the children entrusted to them. These same leaders are meeting with IPS leadership this morning to address this concern and resolve remaining issues.
AFSCME understands that many employees are frustrated by recent decisions made by district leadership and some employees may be acting independently based on these feelings. We have met with affected employees several times since the process was set in motion on January 30th. Many employees were disappointed by lack of communication with their union by IPS leadership and let down by the vote of the board regarding contracting out transportation routes. However, two wrongs don’t make a right.
At this point it is difficult to assess how much if any of this could be determined to be inappropriate use of earned leave time."