W.Va. school employees suspended for participating in Capitol riot file lawsuit

Mineral Daily News-Tribune
In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo supporters of President Donald Trump are confronted by U.S. Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber inside the Capitol in Washington. AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — 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.”