Morehouse Parish bus drivers speak out after payroll controversy

Courtesy: KNOE 8 News
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BASTROP, La. (KNOE) - Some Morehouse Parish bus drivers are speaking out after a paycheck controversy. Some say the school district is taking back a bonus they already received. But, the district's superintendent the drivers were unauthorized to receive the bonus, and the school district needs to take the money back.

It's a controversy that comes down mostly to taxes.

Superintendent David Gray says a few years ago, people who live on the east side of Morehouse Parish, folks in Mer Rouge, Delta, Bonita, and Collinston, voted in a tax. At least part of the money pays for bonuses for employees who take care of the students in that part of the parish, people like teachers, janitors, and bus drivers.

This school year, because the district consolidated two schools, some bus drivers were taking former Pine Grove Elementary students to a school on the east side of the parish. At some point this week, those drivers were included in the bonuses.

Thursday morning, drivers tell KNOE they received a call, telling them they weren't supposed to get the bonuses and next week's paychecks would be withheld to make up for the money they shouldn't have gotten.

"One paycheck could... break us," driver Vicki Pack said. "Make or break us. We don't make enough money as it is. And we are probably the lowest paid and have the most important job, getting kids to and from school. And we're the least appreciated."

KNOE took these concerns to Superintendent David Gray. He explained because the drivers technically don't service the children of east Morehouse Parish, they're ineligible for the bonus.

That said, Gray told KNOE the drivers wouldn't be out a paycheck. He says since drivers have direct deposit, the bonus money will come right out of their accounts, and they will still be paid.

Gray also said that legally, the district needs to recover those dollars because they come from taxpayers.