Furloughed Baker bus driver claims school system withheld allowance from his salary

BAKER – It’s been a month since a group of bus drivers in Baker refused to go to work amid a strike; to protest a payroll error that resulted in a major pay cut.

All but one of those drivers have returned to work, but Keemichael Comena has since been furloughed.

Comena says the school system put him on paid leave due to an altercation between him and a supervisor as bus drivers met with the superintendent to end the strike.

He alleges a supervisor put his hand in front of his face and told him to shut up when the verbal disagreement ensued.

“I stood up and told her that what she wasn’t going to do was put her hand on my face, and you’re also not going to tell me to shut up. Because of that, I been placed on administrative leave,” Comena said.

In the meantime, Comena is still collecting a paycheck from the Baker School System, but this time he noticed an allowance was missing.

“Because I was on paid leave, I was supposed to get all my money back. I did not receive my allowance money and contacted the superintendent four times. She only got back to me once. only once and only after that I had to contact one of my other supervisors to get her to email me back.”

WBRZ attempted to contact Superintendent De’Ette Perry on Monday, but was told she was not in his office.

Comena says he is barely making it and is looking for another job. While the Baker Bus Drivers are already living off reduced paychecks due to the previous payroll error, the allowance was meant to be his saving grace.

“My checks are already $600 and something, so I was depending on that allowance to catch up on my bills or at least my rent.”

Comena also added that he might have a termination letter in the mail, but he hasn’t received it yet. He says he won’t go down without a fight.

“If I have to stay here and fight on my own, I will. I don’t feel like I’m wrong. I know I’m not wrong.”

Jeremy S. McLain