KINGSTON, Ont. — All Diane Pope and Brigette Klepy want for Christmas is to be allowed to decorate the school buses they drive.
But an e-mail from Tri-Board Student Transportation Services has told them they're not allowed.
Klepy, who has been a bus driver for 15 years, said the children on her route love the decorations.
“These kids can't wait to get on the bus and see what I've done, to see what hat I'm wearing,” Klepy said.
In the e-mail to Klepy's employer, Stover Bus Line, Brenda Chalk, a transportation supervisor with Tri-Board, the transportation agency contracted to provide services for local school boards, said using a bus with Christmas decorations will not be allowed.
“If that bus is decorated tomorrow, it is not to leave your yard,” the email stated. “Another bus will need to be used on that route.
“Should the decorated bus be used on the route, it would be considered a breach of your contract,” the email concluded.
Klepy said she would remove the decorations prior to driving Wednesday morning.
She said she did not want Stover Bus Lines to lose its contract. Stover has a fleet of about 13 buses and is contracted to run about five school bus routes.
“If I leave the yard tomorrow, he loses his contract,” said a tearful Klepy.
“A couple of old ladies who want to decorate their buses and they are threatening to take away all his runs.”
The decorations on the inside of Klepy's bus were difficult to see from the outside. The ribbons, bows, snowflakes and Christmas crackers were fixed to the ceiling.
The bus Pope drives had stickers of snowmen, elves, Santa Claus and angels in the windows.
“I've been told I have to take all of that down,” Pope said.
“As a Canadian, I have celebrated Christmas all my life.”
Pope and Klepy said they would like to see the decoration ban abolished.
In a memo this month to bus operators, Tri-Board reminded drivers that “no seasonal decorations are to be placed on the inside or the outside of the school buses.”
The policy has been around for many years, Chalk said.
“We transport students from a variety of ethnic and religious groups,” Chalk said in an interview Tuesday afternoon.
“We like to keep it as generic as possible.”
According to the company's website, Tri-Board transports about 32,500 students to 160 schools.
Pope and Klepy said their decorations were non-denominational.
“This is totally not a religious thing. This is about Christmas,” said Klepy.
If anything, the decorations during the lead up to the Christmas break gives bus drivers a chance to connect with students and gives drivers a chance to show students their festive side, said Pope, who has been a bus driver for five years.
“It's the one time of year when we get to give back,” Pope said. “We discipline the kids all year long. This lets them see us in a different light.
“I don't see how a sticker on a window, or wearing a Christmas hat would offend anyone.
“I'm not trying to offend anyone.”