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West Fargo Public Schools terminates job of transportation operations supervisor

D. Webster

Two weeks ago, bus drivers for West Fargo Public Schools tried to negotiate higher wages with administration. Their supervisor has since been fired.

The operations supervisor for the West Fargo Public Schools Transportation Department says he was fired yesterday.

Kenneth Steiner says he wonders if his transgressions were “fire-able offenses.”

On August 16, West Fargo bus drivers met with administration to try and negotiate higher wages. They claim they are the lowest paid drivers in the area, and are struggling with being short staffed. Steiner says Superintendent Beth Slette told the drivers at the meeting that their hard work was recognized, but if anyone decided to not show up on the first day of school in protest they would be fired.

Steiner says topics of discussion at the meeting focused around where West Fargo Public Schools could find the funds to pay the drivers a higher wage, but the drivers were told no funds were available for this purpose. He says the drivers went to bat for him for his job.

"One of the bus drivers spoke up and said, 'what assurances do we have that Kenneth Steiner will not be terminated because he's being a voice for the bus drivers?' A couple other bus drivers spoke up and said yeah, we've never had this voice, no one's ever spoke up for us before. Slette said some things, but didn't answer that question directly. Another bus driver spoke up and said, 'no, wait, you didn't answer the question. What assurances do we have that Kenneth won't be terminated over this issue?' She said, 'Well, all I can say is I have no issues with Kenneth.' That's all she said. 'I have no issues with Kenneth.'"

Steiner says two weeks after this meeting, he’s been let go.

"My supervisor Brad Redmond walked into my office, sat down, said 'we need to talk,' he closed the door. He said, 'This just isn't working out.'"

Steiner says Redmond told him he hadn’t completed his defensive driving course, he hadn’t finished a training calendar, and he hadn’t succeeded in recruiting more drivers. But Steiner says he felt like Redmond was just looking for excuses when he explained them to Steiner.

Steiner says he could have had the defensive driving course completed by the end of the week. He also says the training calendar he was supposed to have completed was for a collection of days students wouldn't be in school, but transportation employees still needed to work. He says the first day on that calendar wasn't until mid-October. Steiner also says recruiting new drivers was never in his job description.

As of 5:00pm CST, calls to Redmond for comment have not been returned.