HOUSTON -

Dozens of people gathered outside HISD headquarters Tuesday to support several district school bus drivers reprimanded for praying while at work.

At least five bus drivers coordinated a prayer session earlier this month for a colleague's daughter who'd just been killed in a car accident.

The problem, according to district officials, is the women used the two-way radios on board their buses to communicate the prayer.

In a statement, HISD officials wrote, "While HISD appreciates the intent of the bus drivers who received these citations, the district's priority must be the safety and security of our students. As stated in the HISD Transportation Handbook policy and in accordance with the FCC law, all radio communications are to be used for HISD purposes only."

But many including HISD trustee-elect Wanda Adams think the district was too harsh on the drivers.

"In this case, sensitivity should've been used in spite of the incident that occurred," Adams said Tuesday at the prayer vigil.  "Because it could've been their daughter. It could've been their son. And the first thing they would've done is picked up their phone and called their pastor and say, 'Pastor would you pray for me.'"

Two of the disciplined drivers attended Tuesday's prayer gathering.  They said they had previously asked the district for a designated room to pray for their colleague before ultimately deciding to pray over the radio.

"I just though it was unfair and unjust that HISD took the stand that they did against us after not giving us a place to pray," said Debra McDonald, an HISD driver for the last 22 years.  "So, we did what we had to do."

McDonald and fellow driver, Cynthia Cormier, said they didn't deserve to be reprimanded because they used a separate radio frequency for the prayer and didn't disrupt any of the other drivers.

Tammie Lang Campbell, founder of the Honey Brown Hope Foundation, who helped organize Tuesday's prayer vigil said, "We pray that HISD will see the error of its ways in how they unjustly punished these bus drivers."

Campbell said as soon as the district reopens after the holidays, her group plans to ask HISD Superintendent Terry Grier to reconsider the reprimands.