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Panola school bus drivers protest after pay cut

PANOLA COUNTY, Miss. — Several school bus drivers in north Panola County, Mississippi are parking their buses and refusing to go out on routes after they say their wages were slashed in half.

Tuesday, the drivers confronted their boss. Drivers arrived on buses, even tractors, for the chance to speak with district leaders.

"Eleven years, faithful driver. I don't miss any days," said Shalonda Harris, one of about half a dozen bus drivers involved in the boycott. "My check this week was $338 and I drove a whole month."

Superintendent Cedric Richardson said some salaries were cut because routes were changed.

Harris and nearly half a dozen other bus drivers say they only found out about the pay cut the day before payday, and they're finding it hard to make ends meet.

"I want to know why and who made that decision," driver Ed Whiting said.

Harris said the problem begins with transportation director Mark Gross.

"The transportation director, Mark Gross, talks to us like we are dogs," she said.

Gross had little to say after parking a bus right across from the boycotting bus drivers.  An impromptu meeting was scheduled, but Gross said he had no plans to attend.

The director of two years literally made a u-turn when questioned by WREG.

With that, a closed-door meeting with Gross and the bus drivers got underway.

"He said he would get with all the drivers individually and he would let them know," Harris said afterward.

Until Harris knows what the final outcome is, she and her bus will sit idly by.

"I'm not going to sit back and let nobody take that away from me," she said.

The superintendent said the district is taking seriously any concerns surrounding the transportation supervisor.

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