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Compromise Leaves 200 Lakewood, NJ Bus Drivers 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 )

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LAKEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) _School bus drivers in Lakewood, NJ are up in arms over a state law that will require them to work on Thanksgiving. According to New Jersey law, “transportation must be provided even when only non-public schools are in session”.

At non-public Jewish schools within the district, Thanksgiving is not a holiday.  In Lakewood, a district of 24,000 students, only 5,000 attend public school; this means that the district will have to provide transportation for some 18,000 students.

Normally, some 400 drivers handle 18,000 students in Lakewood. But officials reached a compromise after drivers complained about having to work the holiday to fulfill a state mandate to provide busing — only 200 drivers will be brought in to work on Thursday.

“Who’s gonna work on Thanksgiving? I’m not,” bus driver Bill Fitzgerald said last week. Another driver added, “you should be home on certain holidays, and that’s one of them.”

Parents carpooled in the past, however, officials say that’s no longer practical because the number of students has grown. One parent also cited safety concerns as a need for bus service on Thanksgiving, “You have to carpool, then it’s dangerous for the kids getting in and out,” said Abe Greenwald, who’s two sons attend a private Jewish school.

The issue first arose this spring when a parent notified the state after observing empty, parked, school buses on Memorial Day. Now the district’s hands are tied explained Lakewood school board attorney Michael Inzelbuch. Inzelbuch called this “an unfortunate situation.”

Some people are handling the news that they will be working on Thanksgiving better than others. “If you gotta work on Thanksgiving, you gotta work. That’s how I feel about it,” said Brian Weir who will be working along with the drivers.

Thirty six of the 76 private schools in Lakewood agreed to use buses only in the morning. Thirteen schools will receive full-day service while four won’t use transportation.

How would you feel about giving up your holiday to come into work? Let us know in our comments section below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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