Kendra Lindon, a Calgary school bus driver, says she is "really hurt" after being fired for picking up stranded junior high school students in her own vehicle on an extremely cold morning.
Lindon, a 10-year veteran bus driver, decided to pick up the students when her bus wouldn't start on Feb. 12.
In an interview with CBC Radio's The Homestretch on Tuesday afternoon, Lindon said she didn’t realize she was breaking the bus company’s rules.
“I thought my bus driver hat was off and my parent-community hat was on,” she said.
Bus wouldn't start
Lindon checked on her bus in northwest Calgary at 6 a.m. and it wouldn’t start. She called dispatch, which put her in the queue for a mechanic. Her first pickup was set for 7:16 a.m.
“I was worried about the kids. It was freezing,” she said.
The day before her bus wouldn’t start, and despite calling in for help, she says, no replacement bus ever came to pick up the students on the route.
“I know these parents personally and I know the kids. I’ve known them since kindergarten — they’ve been in my son’s class since kindergarten. And I knew there wasn’t going to be many.”
The temperature felt like –26 with the wind chill at 7 a.m. that morning, according to Environment Canada.
So Lindon drove in her SUV to ask another bus driver friend to take care of three of her stops. She planned to bring students at the two stops on the other side of the neighbourhood to him. One of the students she needed to pick up was her son.
“I go past my other stops to get to my son’s stop … and I couldn’t just drive past them,” she said.
She picked up six students during the drive — some went without seat belts — before parking at a stop and filling the vehicle with more cold students. They waited until the replacement bus arrived.
“Again, they’re junior high, they are not properly dressed. I couldn’t just leave them there.”
By the time she returned to her bus, it had been fixed and she was able to finish her route.
Fired that same day
She learned that afternoon she was fired.
“I am really upset, I’m really hurt,” said Lindon, adding that parents on the route have been supportive of her, sending letters to the bus company.
The school bus company, First Student Canada, told CBC News "it is against company policy to discuss personnel matters."
"First Student does not take lightly the departure of any employee. We have an unwavering dedication to the safety and security of the students we transport to and from school each day. It is a responsibility First Student takes very seriously, and the policies and procedures we have in place are designed to uphold this most important value."
Lindon continues to work at an elementary school.