Credit: Eric J. Shelton/Mississippi Today

The school board attorney for the Greenville School District said she turned in the names of the bus drivers involved in the alleged bus driver strike to the Attorney General’s office on Thursday.

The board previously instructed Dorian Turner, the attorney, to draft the documentation for their review and approval last month. Board members indicated they had no questions or concerns about the documents to discuss at their regular meeting this week, so Turner mailed the information to Attorney General Lynn Fitch, she said.

A request for comment to Board President Jan Vaughn was not immediately returned on Friday.

A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office also did not immediately respond to questions submitted by Mississippi Today.

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.

This was one of the first organized work stoppages in Mississippi public schools since 9,429 teachers walked out in a 1985 strike, after which lawmakers passed the demanded pay increases but also enacted one of the nation’s most stringent strike laws.

Bus drivers in Jackson Public Schools went on strike in 2013, but it did not result in a lawsuit, according to Sherwin Johnson, spokesperson for the school district.

Johnson also said bus drivers were given an increase in pay the following year. It’s unclear if their names were ever turned over to then-Attorney General Jim Hood at the time.

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 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. 

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Kate Royals is a Jackson native and returned to Mississippi Today as the lead education reporter after serving in the same capacity from 2016 to 2018. Prior to that, she was a reporter for the Clarion-Ledger covering education and state government. She won awards for her investigative work, including stories about the state’s campaign finance laws and prison system. She was a news producer at MassLive in Springfield, Mass., after graduating from Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communications with a master’s degree in communications.