School bus drivers report payment issues with contract company - WSMV News 4

School bus drivers report payment issues with contract company

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Bus drivers for LEAD Academy say they've had several issues with payment from their contracting company. (WSMV) Bus drivers for LEAD Academy say they've had several issues with payment from their contracting company. (WSMV)

Danelle Stephens says he was supposed to get paid last Friday. But he and several other drivers for LEAD Academy began the week unsure when they’d get their checks.

Stephens has been a driver for LEAD Academy for five years. He recently got this message from the transportation company ACR:

“LEAD drivers and monitors, we regret to inform you there will be a delay in receiving your payroll check tomorrow morning. We are awaiting payment and will be able to direct deposit as soon as we receive payment. We apologize in advance.”

Stephens says this isn’t the first time he’s had an issue with getting paid on time. He says communication and payment changed when LEAD began contracting with ACR Transportation to operate the school buses.

“Financially, I don’t think they were really able to carry on the responsibilities that they had signed up for,” Stephens said.

Stephens told us that last October, his paycheck bounced – he had to contact the company’s bank to get his payment.

“I have no idea what happened as to why there were no funds in that particular account, but I do know my check bounced, and I was not the only one,” he said.

Tuesday morning, Stephens and other drivers checked their accounts and the ACR payments are there, but without a statement or payment or benefits explanation.

“To this date, I’m trying to call them,” Stephens said. “I’ve still never received a call from the owners or their representatives.

The company has been under scrutiny this year across the state. Stephens says LEAD buses were stopped temporarily out of compliance concerns. Rocketship Elementary students weren’t picked up at the beginning of their school year.

In Memphis, a charter school put out a notice to parents on Facebook canceling their service with ACR after a state audit looked into inspection and compliance concerns.

ACR told Channel 4, “All compliance issues that arose during that audit were resolved quickly and immediately. All school buses running for the Nashville schools were inspected and passed by the State of Tennessee Highway Patrol.

ACR’s management maintains that every employee was paid every check in full.

When Rocketship canceled their contract with ACR last school year, they went with Grayline. ACR says they didn’t have enough equipment or employees to handle the contract after the second week of school.

LEAD Charter Schools and ACR are not renewing their contract for the next year, and LEAD will be with Grayline as well.

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