HISD school bus drivers disciplined for praying after child's death

Some bus drivers were reprimanded after praying together for a grieving coworker
December 31, 2013 4:06:47 PM PST
Houston ISD bus drivers came together to support a coworker and to protest a move by the school district.

Several drivers were reprimanded for praying with that coworker, after she lost a child. In response to that -- they're praying even more.

On December 16, a 12-year-old girl was struck by a car as she walked home from school in north Harris County. She would later die from her injuries. She was the daughter of an HISD bus driver, whose coworkers rallied around her.

Bus driver Cynthia Cormier said, "From a parent's point of view and from a grandparent's, prayer is the answer."

As news of the tragedy spread among the community of HISD school bus drivers, they spontaneously prayed for one of their own who was grieving. They joined not holding hands, but by using a back channel on the bus radio system.

Wretha Thomas, with the Educational Support Union, said, "Somebody else heard it and called in and reported it to the administration and they chose to write them up."

At least five drivers had disciplinary letters laced in their personnel files. They were told the use of school equipment for private purposes is a violation of policy.

Tuesday, in front of the HISD administration building, the workers were joined by ministers.

"There are a number of ways to have this resolved from the preachers and pastors who are very concerned," said Rev. Robert Gilmore, with Houston Ministers Against Crime.

This prayer asked that the reprimands would be removed from files.

"That you'll erase it off the bus drivers' records, God," prayed Dennis Campbell with the Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church. "Lord, that you'll bless these bus drivers for blessing you, God."

"We ask not for special favors, simply for justice," prayed Reverend Bill Lawson with the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church. "And we ask that you will see to it that the jobs and the reputations of those who have been written up will be looked after and that somehow they should be fairly treated."

The union says the drivers were not suspended and they did not lose any pay. However, a note in the file could impact their ability to drive buses during the summer months.

Some of the incoming HISD board members say they plan to speak to the superintendent about the policy.

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