Lakota school bus strike: Drivers picket Friday as parents scramble to get kids to class
LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WXIX) - Bus drivers for the second-largest school district in Greater Cincinnati are spending their first day on strike out on the picket lines.
Dozens of drivers began picketing around 5:30 a.m. Friday outside Lakota’s bus garage off Yankee Road in Liberty Township.
Drivers voted Thursday night to reject the latest contract offer from Petermann Transporation, which handles busing for the school district.
Drivers object to new contract provisions permitting supervisors to monitor them at any time. Previously, that only happened after reckless driving or another complaint, according to their union president.
This strike means thousands of students are unable to take yellow buses to and from school and athletic events - and thousands of parents are now left scrambling to find other ways to get them to and from class.
This year, Lakota has 17,400 students in 23 schools across 63 miles in West Chester and Liberty townships, according to the district’s website.
Lakota students will not be marked tardy or absent if they are unable to find transportation to school during the bus driver strike, district officials say.
“We are extremely disappointed with this outcome and the impact it will have on our students and their families,” Lakota Interim Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli wrote in an email to families Thursday night
“We are hoping for a quick resolution and will update you as soon as we have more information from Petermann. Thank you for your patience, understanding and partnership as we work together to make the best of this unfortunate situation.”
Student busing is available for grades K-9.
In general, students at Lakota’s two high schools (grades 10-12) are not provided busing.
Other students who normally receive busing but now will not due to the strike are, according to the interim superintendent’s email:
- All special education students, including preschool
- Before- and after-school childcare transportation provided by Petermann
- After-school activities, including athletics
- Students who travel between schools for classes and after-school activities
- Parochial and private school students who use Lakota Transportation such as St. Susanna School.
One parent who talked with FOX19 NOW Friday said they called off work to make sure they were able to pick up their kids from school.
Another parent, Alicia, said she hopes the contract dispute gets resolved soon.
“It is an inconvenience, yeah,” she said. “So, hopefully, it gets worked out soon so we’re able to kind of get back to our normal schedule.”
The varsity football teams at both of Lakota’s high schools have away games Friday night.
Lakota East varsity players are facing off against Princeton High School at Princeton.
Lakota West beat Princeton last week and will take on Fairfield High School at Fairfield.
Six hours before both teams’ 7 p.m. kickoff, each high school’s athletic department was able to secure substitute bus drivers to transport players to the games, according to Lakota Local Schools School/Community Relations Director Betsy Fuller.
Lakota East High School’s athletic director tweeted Thursday night about new vans for athletes.
“Shoutout and huge thank you to @eastboosters for their support in purchasing our new vans! Our athletes will be traveling in style! The black van should be complete in the next few weeks. Go Hawks Go! @EAST_HAWKS.”
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