BOSTON (CBS) – Before Covid-19, Gail Titus-Jefferson was in the business of helping to deliver Boston Public School students, many with special needs, from point A to point B.
“I call them our precious cargo,” Titus-Jefferson said.
When the pandemic struck, the BPS bus monitor and hundreds of others started delivering meals to needy families.
Then, in June, Titus-Jefferson said the buses stopped and so did the paychecks. During a time when there would normally be summer school, there was not any.
Titus-Jefferson, who heads the union representing the roughly 600 monitors in the district, said most of them applied for and were denied unemployment money.
“Unemployment is telling us because we got a reasonable assurance letter stating we had a job in September, we weren’t eligible for unemployment,” she said.
Every year, the District sends a reasonable assurance letter to the bus monitors promising work during the school year. This year is no different. But, Titus-Jefferson worries that work will not return this fall. She and other monitors say they have repeatedly asked the school district if their jobs will resume and have received no response.
“I had to scrape my money up this month to get my mortgage paid,” she said.
Fellow bus monitor, Cameron Clark, finds himself in a similar situation.
“I myself live with my mother, my brother, and my older sister. And, my little brother has Down syndrome so we have bills, we have things we need to pay for,” Clark said.
Boston Public Schools released the following statement:
This spring, Boston Public Schools (BPS) bus monitors received “reasonable assurance letters,” which are consistent with letters sent each year to bus monitors, giving them notice that they have a position for the upcoming school year. Because summer programs were operated remotely this year, there were no summer opportunities for monitors. Typically, the company that oversees unemployment for BPS would challenge claims by employees who had received reasonable assurance letters for the upcoming school year. BPS is currently reviewing its practice in light of the current public health crisis.