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.”