Cedar Rapids school district paid bus drivers for canceled work during ransomware attack

Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 5:40 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - After a ransomware attack shut down the district for a week, some Cedar Rapids Community School District bus drivers were paid for canceled bus trips, according to records our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Team received through an open records request.

Twenty different employees, according to district records, received payments worth a combined amount around $2,000. In July, district officials told bus drivers and TV9 it wouldn’t pay for scheduled work canceled due to the cyberattack.

Christine Huston, who said she drove the school bus for the Cedar Rapids School District for 13 years, said in July she was frustrated the district decided to not pay bus drivers. She said it’s unfair to those who depend on the district for money to pay bills.

“It may be pennies to the people upstairs,” Huston said. But, it’s a car payment, it’s a house payment, it’s food for a week.”

Sally Schaab, who also claimed to drive school buses, told the Board of Education she was disappointed the district decided to not pay its employees. She said the district’s contempt shown toward its employees by calling them supplemental workers will make it harder to attract new drivers.

“How you would like it if you were referred to as supplemental? How it would make you feel?” Schaab asked the board. “We were very demoralized.”

Teamsters Local 238, which is the Union for the bus drivers in the district, said these payments happen because the district makes a distinction between regularly scheduled routes and trips for baseball games or show choir concerts. It told TV9 drivers get cancellation payments when a bus ride for a trip gets canceled, but not when a route gets canceled.

Scott Punteney, who is the business agent with Teamsters Local 238, said he believes giving cancellation pay for one type of bus ride is unfair because drivers are doing the same work, driving a bus.

The Cedar Rapids Community School District didn’t respond to an on-camera interview request and sent two written statements to TV9.

Linda Noggle, who is the Executive Director of Talent Management for the district, said in a written statement, cancellation pay is a contractual obligation. She also wrote the Teamsters have not filed any grievances under the collective bargaining agreement nor any complaints under the employee handbook.

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