UPDATE: Suspended bus drivers cleared of wrongdoing in Trump event

UPDATE: 1/13/2021- Two West Virginia school bus drivers who were suspended for attending a rally for President Donald Trump in the nation’s capital have been cleared of wrongdoing following hearings, an attorney said Wednesday.

Attorney John Bryan, who is representing the employees in a separate lawsuit against the Jefferson County School District, said one employee was cleared Tuesday and the other on Wednesday. No evidence was presented against them, Bryan said.

Bryan said he is still proceeding with the federal lawsuit against school Superintendent Bondy Shay Gibson. Bryan is representing bus drivers Tina Renner and Pamela McDonald. The lawsuit said Renner and McDonald’s actions were protected under the First Amendment when they traveled last week to Washington to support Trump.

Renner and McDonald rode on a charter bus Jan. 6. After hearing Trump speak at a rally, they walked to the U.S. Capitol, remained in an area designated for public occupation and did not participate in illegal activities, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit said attending the rally was unrelated to the bus drivers’ employment and they had enough leave days available to attend the rally.

Renner and McDonald each received a phone call after returning informing them that they would be placed on paid administrative leave. Both also received letters from Gibson.

A Capitol police officer died from injuries suffered when a mob violently ransacked the U.S. Capitol after the rally, and police fatally shot a woman during the riot. Three others died in what authorities said were medical emergencies.

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UPDATE: 1/12/2021-  A federal lawsuit says two West Virginia school bus drivers were suspended in retaliation for attending demonstrations in the nation’s capital.

Attorney John Bryan filed the lawsuit against Jefferson County schools Superintendent Bondy Shay Gibson on behalf of bus drivers Tina Renner and Pamela McDonald.

The lawsuit said Renner and McDonald’s actions were protected under the First Amendment when they traveled to Washington, D.C. to support President Donald Trump.

Renner and McDonald rode on a charter bus Jan. 6. After hearing Trump speak at a rally, they walked to the U.S. Capitol, remained in an area designated for public occupation and did not participate in illegal activities, the lawsuit said.

A Capitol police officer died from injuries suffered when a mob violently ransacked the U.S. Capitol, and police fatally shot a woman during the riot. Three others died in what authorities said were medical emergencies.

Renner and McDonald each received a phone call after returning from the school district’s director of transportation informing them that they would be placed on paid administrative leave. Both also received letters from Gibson.

The lawsuit said attending the rally was unrelated to the bus drivers’ employment and that they had enough leave days available to attend the rally.

In response to the lawsuit, the school district said in an email Tuesday that “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.”

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CHARLESTON, WV (AP)- Two employees at a West Virginia school district have been suspended with pay after they went to demonstrations in the nation’s capital to support the overturning of the presidential election.

In West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle, about an hour from Washington, the Jefferson County school district said Monday the suspensions were due to the violence that erupted at the U.S. Capitol riots last Wednesday.

“Jefferson County Schools fully supports the rights of employees and students to exercise their First Amendment freedoms, including the right to peaceably assemble and to petition the Government, but Wednesday’s protests involved violence and other unlawful conduct,” the district said in a weekend statement.

On Monday, county schools Superintendent Bondy Shay Gibson said in a letter to employees that the two workers had posted “threatening and inflammatory” messages on social media, were present at the protest march and had violated the county’s leave policy. Gibson said a meeting was scheduled to let the employees respond.

A spokesman for the school district declined to specify what type of employees were involved, saying it was a personnel matter.