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N.J. School Bus Drivers Balk At Having To Work On Thanksgiving

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A compromise has allowed some New Jersey school bus drivers to have Thanksgiving Day off after all (credit: CBS 2 )

A compromise has allowed some New Jersey school bus drivers to have Thanksgiving Day off after all (credit: CBS 2 )

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- Forced to work on Thanksgiving? A school bus fight in New Jersey is pitting drivers against parents.

CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis talked with some drivers who said they would rather give up their jobs than their holiday.

School bus drivers in Lakewood, finishing their rounds, say “no thanks” to some holiday humbug which involves working on Thanksgiving.

“Who’s gonna work on Thanksgiving? I’m not,” bus driver Bill Fitzgerald said.

Drivers were sounding off over a state law that says “transportation must be provided even when only non-public schools are in session” — including on Thanksgiving.

“You should be home on certain holidays, and that’s one of them,” said another bus driver.

But private Jewish schools, where Abe Greenwald’s two boys are enrolled, have class on the holiday, and need their buses.

“Yeah, I think it saves a lot of time because when there’s no busing it takes longer for everything to happen,” said Betezalel Greenwald.

“You have to carpool, then it’s dangerous for the kids getting in and out,” added Abe Greenwald.

What’s unique about Lakewood is that for a district of 24,000 students, only about 5,000 go to public school. The rest, mostly Jewish, go to private school and Thanksgiving is not a district holiday. So, students need busing.

“What it means is an unfortunate situation,” said Lakewood Schools Attorney Michael Inzelbuch.

Inzelbuch, who is Jewish, said the district’s hands became tied this year, after a parent wrote the state asking why buses were parked and empty last Memorial Day. Was it illegal?

Inzelbuch answered “yes.”

So bus drivers will now go to work, along with mechanics like Brian Weir, giving up his Thanksgiving as well.

“If you gotta work on Thanksgiving, you gotta work. That’s how I feel about it,” Weir said.

School officials said there are some schools that have declined bus service for the holiday, choosing to give their bus drivers a break.

What do you think of the situation?  Share your thoughts in the comments section…

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