WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WTVF) — With weeks until school begins, one bus driver says she’s being denied the unemployment money she and her family desperately need.
For more than 10 years, Carla Loftin has been driving busses for Williamson County Schools. It’s her full-time job, but it’s the kids who bring her back every year.
“I cannot wait to get back. I miss my bus babies so bad,” said Loftin.
Once schools closed and students left, so did her paychecks. About a third of her salary every year comes from driving during the spring and summer months. Loftin drives for band trips, district trips and all types of field trips. With those trips canceled, she’s been living off what money she’s saved and the checks the district sent through May.
We interviewed Loftin just outside her Williamson County home for two reasons. The first being her husband who struggles with a debilitating host of illnesses. Loftin says she’s tried to limit his exposure to other people in the midst of the pandemic.
Loftin stays close by to monitor his well-being and change out his IV every few hours. With the threat of bringing the infection back home, Loftin decided to not run the risk and take other jobs.
She filed for unemployment in April and was approved. Since then she’s been on the phones, leaving voicemails and sending emails, asking for help after initially struggling to certify her claims.
It wasn’t until moments before we met her that she finally heard back from the state.
“It was almost like angels. A call from the department of labor? Oh my heavens,” said Loftin.
What she heard, wasn’t what she was hoping for. An adjudicator called and explained how Loftin could not draw the money during the summer months because she is employed by the Williamson County Board of Education.
Loftin now has to come up with a letter from the district to show she’s missing out on summer work because of COVID-19. Whereas others who don’t typically drive during the summer, already don’t qualify.
“From what I understand there’s also an extra $600 a week, which would greatly aid us. We have no money,” said Loftin.
Which brings us to the second reason we interviewed outside.
“The air isn’t working, but I can’t tell the landlord to fix it because we haven’t paid the rent,” said Loftin.
With school closing in, Loftin says she’s ready to get back to that steady paycheck she’s held for years. She just hopes she can make it until then.
“Pray. That’s the only thing I’ve been able to do. Pray for answers,” said Loftin.
Loftin tells us she’s contacted the Williamson County payroll department, who says they are working to furnish a letter for Loftin’s claim.