Teens Left In The Lurch After Waltham Driver’s School Closes Abruptly

By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV

WALTHAM (CBS) — Hundreds of would-be drivers are now scrambling to find a new place to take their driver’s training.

The very popular Cam’s Auto School on Main Street in Waltham has been in business since 1945, but as of late March, it’s closed.

“We pretty much got screwed over,” said Kyle Hegarty, a sophomore at Natick High School, where Cam’s had the contract to teach driver’s ed.

Hegarty’s mother paid Cam’s $545 for his classes. Natick High negotiated a new deal for students at the Bay State Driving School, but families have to shell out another $480 for that class. Other students are on their own to find a new program.

WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports.

Students will not have to re-take any classes, but they will lose a little bit of time as new driving schools work to fit hundreds of new students into their schedules.

Driving instructor Anna Sabatino taught classes and gave driving lessons at Cam’s for almost two years – until she quit last December when a bad situation kept getting worse.

“I didn’t like some of the things that were going on,” said Sabatino. She described low morale, cars that would frequently break down, and an unresponsive owner. Sabatino’s own children had taken driver’s education classes at Cam’s, and she says she tried to fix some of the problems.

“I did voice my concerns to the owner. Obviously it wasn’t heard,” Sabatino continued. She immediately took a new job at another area driving school, and feels bad for instructors at Cam’s who lost their jobs with no notice.

“I knew what I brought to the place, and I just felt like sometimes I wasn’t respected for the work I was doing,” she said.

Another person who worked at Cam’s until last month’s surprise shut-down spoke at length to WBZ about the situation, though that worker wants to remain nameless.

The longtime employee said that in recent months, the owner would go seven or eight weeks without paying his instructors. After the first of this year, this worker said the owner actually gave away three or four driver training cars to his instructors in an attempt to make up for unpaid wages.

WBZ tried to talk to the owner, a man named Fred Lovely. A woman who answered the door to Lovely’s Needham home denied he was at home and then slammed the door in a reporter’s face.

Parents, meantime, are fuming. The Registry of Motor Vehicles knows about the closure and is working to see how much money it can recover for families. But a letter to parents from the registry cautions the process is going to take awhile and families should not expect full reimbursement.

“I think it’s pretty crappy that the guy just walked away from it,” said Laurie Kane, whose son William was almost finished with his program at Cam’s. Now she’ll have to pay more for him to finish – and he’s going to be behind schedule.

“He’s getting pushed back now. He could have been done in May or June and now it’s going to be a few months out.”

Comments

One Comment

  1. Wally Skinner says:

    Ah, I think this story broke about two weeks ago folks.

  2. GLENN says:

    MY NAME IS GLENN AND I’M ONE OF THE NOW ” FORMER INSTRUCTORS” OF CAMS AUTO SCHOOL. EVERYTHING THAT ANNA SABATINO SAID IS ABSOLUTELY CORRECT. THE OWNER WAS TRYING TO KEEP THE SCHOOL OPENED, BUT DUE TO THE LACK OF SIGN-UPS, HE COULDN’T. THERE WAS A PERIOD WHERE HE COULD HAVE SOLD THE SCHOOL, BUT UNFORTUNATELY, HE CHOSE NOT TO. THE INSTRUCTORS FELT THAT FOR THE STUDENTS THAT HAD ALREADY PAID FOR LESSONS, WE COULD NOT JUST WALK AWAY. YES, IT’S TRUE. WE WERE WORKING FOR WEEKS AND WEEKS, EVEN MONTHS, NOT GETTING PAID. I SAID TO THE OWNER THAT HE SHOULD AT LEAST MAKE THE CHECKS AVAILABLE TO US. IT TOOK MANY TIMES TO GET HIM TO DO THIS. AS OF THIS DATE, THE OWNER DID NOT GIVE ME MY LAST WEEKS PAY (MARCH 13TH-MARCH 19TH) AS WELL AS MY VACATION PAYCHECK. WE HAVE A SIGNED AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE TWO OF US, WITNESSED BY ONE OF THE OFFICE STAFF. I’VE STILL GOT THREE CHECKS THAT I CANNOT CASH OR DEPOSIT. THE AGREED AMOUNT FOR THE STUDENT DRIVER ED. CAR, IS ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS. THAT STILL COMES LESS THAN THE VACATION PAY AND MY LAST WEEKS PAY. IF THE OWNER DOES NOT LIVE UP TO HIS AGREEMENT, THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE WILL BE INVOLVED, NOT JUST FOR ME, BUT THE OTHER INSTRUCTORS AS WELL. AS FAR AS I KNOW, ONE TOWN HAS A CLASS-ACTION SUIT PENDING. IT WOULD BE HELPFUL IF OTHERS DID THE SAME. I TRULY FEEL EXTREMELY SORRY FOR ALL THE STUDENTS AND THEIR PARENTS FOR I REALLY ENJOYED INSTRUCTING THEM ON THE ROAD. OFTEN, I TOLD THE STUDENTS, THAT THIS SEEMED MORE FUN THAN WORK FOR ME. IT ALSO GAVE ME GREAT PRIDE, KNOWING THAT I HELPED NOT TO JUST SEEING THE STUDENTS GET THEIR LICENSE, BUT USING IT WISELY WHILE ON THE ROAD. THANKS TO ALL FORMER STUDENTS FOR THE LAST THIRTEEN PLUS YEARS.

  3. Dripable Service says:

    Exceptionally well executed blog!

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