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Baker superintendent stonewalls questions about unlicensed bus drivers, pay issues

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BAKER - Transportation was back to normal Tuesday at Baker Schools after bus drivers returned to work following a days-long protest. 

It all began Thursday, when the school system cut drivers' pay by hundreds of dollars each month to correct an error. Drivers said it caught them off guard.

"It's $750... every month," said Cindy Hamilton, a bus driver that has been with the Baker school system for nine years. 

The drivers say they did not bat an eye when they began receiving higher pay checks, because they were under the impression that they were getting a raise. One driver told WBRZ Tuesday, the school board informed them of a raise last August before school started.

One year later, they were informed of an oversight error which paid them nearly $9,000 too much over the course of a year. 

“It didn’t have any minutes at a school board meeting discussing or approving a raise but we were told that a raise was given and had been approved last school year," said Keemichael Comena, a Baker bus driver.

The superintendent in Baker, Dr. De'Ette Perry, did not return messages from WBRZ for days. We caught up with her at a groundbreaking ceremony for Baker High School.

“The bus driver situation was a personnel matter and we have addressed it," said Perry. 

Dodgy and uncomfortable, Superintendent Perry was not willing to provide an explanation into the ongoing feud or what caused it.

"I prefer not to comment on that" said Perry, when asked about the amount the bus drivers were overpaid. 

Drivers told WBRZ last week that unqualified school employees were behind the wheel of at least two buses, just to get students to and from school. We asked the superintendent about that, but she was less than forthcoming.

"That is an accusation. It is not proven," Perry said.

One bus driver remains on administrative leave and says he doesn't know why. The rest of the bus drivers say their pay was adjusted to their individual needs, but they will still have to pay the money back to the school system.


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