Cafeteria workers forced to drive school buses?

March 17, 2013 12:40:59 PM PDT
In Cumberland County, there are new concerns for school bus safety after school employees say they're being forced to drive buses next year or lose their jobs.

One school cafeteria worker spoke anonymously to ABC11, fearing she could be fired. She said she will lose her job next year unless she starts driving a school bus.

"I'm scared to drive these kids. They are not going to be safe," she said. "I want parents to know what they are doing to us! People that are not qualified to drive a bus with these kids, it's dangerous."

Each day more than 26,000 students ride Cumberland County school buses. Now school officials are telling cafeteria workers to get a commercial driver's license or forego their jobs.

School officials said the CDL requirement has been a state policy since 1988.

"It's a condition of their employment to obtain a CDL, which enables them to drive a bus if needed," said Tim Kinlaw, of Cumberland County Schools."

Kinlaw said the school system needs around 1,200 qualified drivers, but some school workers are having a tough time passing the CDL exam.

Cumberland and other school systems across the state are replacing their fleets with newer busses. They are bigger, heavier, and carry more students.

The cafeteria worker who spoke to ABC11 said she tried for two years to get the school system to enroll her in a training class.

"I don't think it's fair if I signed up and no one has called. And they stay backed up, so it's not fair that I would be out of a job if I have not been called for it," she said.

School officials said the cafeteria works have until August to get a commercial license and take bus driver training.

Those workers say it will take a lot longer than that before they feel comfortable behind the wheel of a school bus.

"I think the driving will be more scarier, you are out there with all these kids and all," one worker said.

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