CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — A Jefferson County school bus driver who attended last Wednesday’s rally in Washington, D.C. that turned violent has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the school system, according to a spokesman for one of the employees.
Pam McDonald and fellow bus driver Tina Renner were suspended with pay by Jefferson County School Superintendent Bondy Shay Gibson while Gibson conducted an investigation. The two workers took the day off last Wednesday and rode a bus to D.C. for the pro-Trump rally.
Gibson said she received a report last Friday that two employees had “posted threatening and inflammatory posts on their Facebook pages, had been present at the Electoral protest march on Wednesday that erupted in violence, and had violated our leave policy.”
Gibson said the school system is “hyper vigilant in its response to to reports of threats, violence, aggression, and any other illegal activities.”
McDonald’s disciplinary hearing took place Tuesday but she was cleared of any wrongdoing, according to Renner spokesman Dan Casto. Renner’s hearing is set for Wednesday. Casto said he expects the same result.
The school system would not confirm the result of McDonald’s hearing but did say in a Tuesday night statement it expected both cases to be resolved by the end of the day Wednesday.
“Jefferson County Schools is aware of some media outlets reporting that 30 employees were suspended for attending a protest in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021; this is simply untrue. The Superintendent received a complaint against two employees. The investigation was completed in a timely manner. We anticipate both matters being resolved by January 13, 2021. Jefferson County Schools is limited in what can be disclosed regarding matters involving school personnel, but we assure you the administration met its obligation to investigate the complaint and handled it appropriately,” the statement said.
Dan Casto, lawyer and spokesperson for Tina Renner talks with @HoppyKercheval about two school employees who have been suspended after attending the Trump rally. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/pawPf1LGQy
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) January 12, 2021
Meanwhile, both women have filed a lawsuit against Gibson claiming she violated their Constitutional rights.
“They wanted to make a statement on behalf of themselves and other employees and other people across the country that if the government violates your Constitutional rights to free speech and the right redress grievances there are consequences,” Casto said during a Tuesday appearance on MetroNews “Talkline.” “The government officials who make these unconstitutional decisions have to be held accountable.”
Casto said Tuesday Renner and McDonald are “model employees” and shocked at what happened. He said they were nowhere near the violence.
“So they were on the bus leaving when the worst of this so-called riot occurred,” Casto said. “The closest they got was across the Capitol Reflection Pool and it appears the closest they would have gotten is 14-hundred or so feet from the Capitol itself.”
Casto claims Gibson had set to out to find any employee who attended the rally.
“We are being told by sources inside the board office that Bondy Gibson went to employees that day and asked them to go on social media and try to identify employees of the Jefferson County school system who attended the rally,” he said.
Gibson said in a Monday letter to the school system that she wanted to be clear that “every employee has every right to the politics and beliefs of their choice, so long as their behavior does not cause harm or is illegal. I am seeking to determine whether these employees violated any policy or laws. The matter is currently under investigation and disciplinary action has not been determined as many have suggested.”
Jefferson County Schools also released the following statement Tuesday evening in response to the lawsuit:
“Dr. Gibson respects the system of due process for all citizens in our county and trusts the integrity of the judiciary to uphold that process,” said Hans Fogle, Public Information Officer for Jefferson County Schools.