Greenville school officials last week directed the school board attorney to draft information about the April bus driver strike to submit to the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, according to attorney Dorian Turner.
“The board discussed and reviewed information regarding individual bus drivers and the alleged strike,” Turner said in a statement. “They directed the board attorney to draft for their approval documentation to submit to the appropriate authorities.”
Between 13 to 20 bus drivers for the Greenville Public School District skipped work in April to protest reduced pay and what they called poor work conditions. Following the strike, which is explicitly illegal in Mississippi, the school board reversed a previous decision to reduce the number of work days for the drivers for the next school year by five days.
Several bus drivers who previously spoke to Mississippi Today said they had not been paid by the district for hours worked. One driver said she was not paid for the duration of her quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19 while at work.
In May, Turner, the board attorney, advised board members that what occurred was indeed a strike. Board officials, however, delayed taking any action for weeks.
The strike law passed in 1985 clearly states that school board members themselves are responsible for reporting the names of those who went on strike to the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office. For each day that those names are not reported by the board to the state, the individual board members and school administrators can be fined between $100 and $250.
The school board held a special called meeting Tuesday. The majority of the meeting was held behind closed doors in executive session, but Turner said no action was taken concerning the strike.
Turner will present the information to the board for its approval at its next meeting on July 27. Everett Chinn, a spokesperson for the district, said the district will not be streaming that meeting or any future meetings online as it has in the past.
Emails between board members and Superintendent Debra Dace reveal some of the internal conversations between Turner, board members and the superintendent in the aftermath of the strike. Dace and board president Jan Vaugh discussed receiving calls from Mississippi Today, and both agreed they would not be commenting on the matter.
” … I guess this is one of the disadvantages of team-audio conferencing because I had no idea (the Mississippi Today reporter) was listening,” Vaughn said in reference to the streamed board meetings.