ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. — A former school bus driver here was awarded nearly $97,000 in a lawsuit claiming she was unfairly fired for leaving a student on her bus.
The school bus incident occurred on Jan. 13, 2015. According to the Kingsport Times-News, a 6-year-old student was left on Loretta Depew’s bus at the end of her route, and a neighbor later found the child walking down the road.
Depew asserted that she inspected the bus but didn’t see the child, who she said was hiding, the Kingsport Times-News reports. The school district, Hawkins County Schools, maintained that the student was sleeping and that Depew failed to perform a post-trip inspection, which endangered the student. The district fired Depew on Jan. 28, 2015.
The Rogersville Review reports that Depew filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against Hawkins County Schools in which she claimed that a male school bus driver had left a student on his bus a year and a half earlier, and the district suspended but did not fire him.
According to The Greeneville Sun, Hawkins County Schools countered that gender discrimination was not a factor, but that the two incidents occurred and were dealt with during the tenures of two different directors of the school district.
On Thursday, a jury decided the case in favor of Depew and awarded her $96,830, which includes lost wages and benefits, damages, and attorney fees.