Chester Tindall to go on medical leave

Parents, drivers upset with ongoing bus problems for Broward County Public Schools

Published On: Sep 05 2012 01:43:22 PM EDT   Updated On: Sep 06 2012 11:06:07 AM EDT
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -

Chester Tindall, who is drawing the ire of parents and bus drivers as problems plague the Broward County Public Schools Transportation Department, is going on medical leave beginning next Monday.

Tindall told the school board during a meeting Wednesday that he'd be gone for up to eight weeks.

"I've neglected a lot of things -- family and mainly my health," said Tindall.

The announcement was made after parents and bus drivers complained about the school bus problems in the district. About 100 school bus drivers attended the meeting although the bus situation wasn't on the agenda. Many wanted to address the problem, which has been ongoing for three weeks.

"This is a route for one driver. Day one -- change. Day two -- change. Day three," said one union rep as he held up papers showing the changes.

"Can I say to my son, 'I'm going to drop you at the bus stop today, have a great day. I'll pick you up later.' Give me a date certain," said one parent.

Scheduling issues continue to plague the school district's transportation department. The peak of the problem came at the beginning of the school year, when last minute route changes and communication issues led to thousands of students stranded.

Superintendent Robert Runcie then accused bus drivers of sabotage.

"The very idea that any one of these drivers would do anything to betray the students on their bus is not only ludicrous but is an insult to the hard work they do," said Daniel Reynolds with the National Federation of Public and Private Employees.

"We are here for one thing -- to get our babies to school safely," said Marjorie Reynolds, a bus driver.

But Runcie issued his praise to the drivers Wednesday.

"I have a very heightened sense of respect and appreciation for the role of bus drivers in this district," said Runcie.

His administration also took some of the blame at the meeting, saying that parent notifications and bus bidding procedures for the bus drivers were flawed.