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Union North School Board Votes 1 – 4 Not to Cancel Bus Driver’s Contract

October 27, 2011

10/28/11 The Union-North School Board voted 1-4 on Thursday night not to cancel the bus contract with driver Kellie Carrico. The contract has been the topic of discussion at several past board meetings.

The lone vote to terminate the contract was made by the Board President Mark Dickson.

The problem came to a head when Carrico refused to pick up a child on her route that has an allergy to peanuts.

Although the child Carrico is declining to pick up on her route was not named at the special meeting on September 21, testimony at that time indicated that he is six- years-old and enrolled in kindergarten at LaVille Elementary. According to information read from the child’s physician’s submission, the student is allergic to any type of peanut product and the condition could be life-threatening. The child does have 504 plan that protects his rights under federal laws and qualifies him for special services.

Reportedly, Carrico did transport the child on her bus for approximately two weeks, but by September 7, quit picking him up.

Appearing with Carrico at October 27 meeting, as he has in past meetings, was her attorney, Vincent Campiti.

Carrico and Campiti contend that she does not and cannot obtain adequate liability insurance because it is not offered to cover her if a problem was to arise concerning the child and his particular condition.

The board is being represented by Mark Scudder if Barnes & Thornburg LLP, who was also present at the meeting on Thursday.

Former Superintendent Dr. Terry Barker had asked the board on September 21 to consider canceling the contract of bus driver Kellie Carrico for what he termed her refusal to transport a student on her bus. Barker has since left the Union-North Corporation after accepting a position as superintendent with School City of Mishawaka.

Campiti expressed his dismay that no contact has been made between the attorneys or others since the last meeting . Campiti said, “For the last two weeks, I was told we were going to have a meeting. That didn’t happen.” He went on to explain that his client (Carrico) was called by the current Interim Superintendent Julie Louke for a meeting alone. Carrico did not accept the invitation. Campiti said, “She (Carrico) has already been abused by one superintendent.”

Campiti also asked board member Rob Swathwood to recuse himself from a vote on the matter since Swathwood’s spouse is the Transportation Director for the Union-North Corporation.

Oddly enough, it was Swathwood that posed possible compromises that could be made to resolve the matter. Swathwood suggested placing a monitor on the bus if the parents of the child would agree.

According to comments made by Board Member David Grenert, the parents do not want the child to be on a bus driven by Carrico. Swathwood also suggested that they have a corporation bus pick up every child on the road where the child lives, so as not to single out the child.

Swathwood said, “We are here for the safety of the child. We want the child in our school system.” Later in the meeting, Swathwood said, “I think we’ve lost thought of what we are here for-a six-year-old boy. We need to get him back on the bus.”

If the decision is made to have a corporation bus transport the children who live on the same road as the child in question, then Carrico’s contract would be reduced by approximately one mile.

Grenert said, “We have granted other bus drivers alternate contracts.” He added, “We have to be careful when we cancel contracts to think of the entire corporation.” “This thing has gotten so blown out of proportion.” Grenert said. He said, “My desire is that at some point we get past the feelings.”

After the meeting, Campiti said, “What the board has done is essentially offered an option.” He added, “We just want the child to have the best viable option.”

He did indicate that further legal steps could be taken on the matter. He said, “If they (board) terminate the contract, there’s no other alternative than to sue.” Campiti added, “I view what the board did as positive.”

If neither of the compromises offered by the board can be reached, then the board did reserve the right revisit the issue.

Carol Anders Correspondent







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