02/10/12 The Union-North United School Board voted unanimously on Thursday night to cancel the contract of bus driver Kelly Carrico. The board, along with Superintendent Mitch Mawhorter, Attorney Mark Scudder, Carrico and Attorney Vince Campiti had met in executive session prior to the regular school board meeting in a final attempt to iron out a solution to a transportation matter that has been lingering since last September.
Scudder represented Union-North and Campiti, Carrico.
In September, Carrico, who was a contracted bus driver, refused to transport a six-year-old kindergarten child who had been identified as having a life-threatening peanut allergy. Although she did transport the student for several days, on September 7, she informed the school administration that she would no longer transport the child due to not having adequate liability insurance. Carrico and Campiti contend that she did not and could not obtain adequate liability insurance because it was not offered to cover her if a problem was to arise concerning the child and his particular condition.
On September 21, 2011, the board had held meeting in which former Superintendent Dr. Terry Barker asked them to consider canceling the Carrico contract. However, a consensus of the Board members could not be reached and they entered into discussions hoping to resolve the matter.
As a final effort, the Board had tried to have the routes of Carrico and Transportation Director Lylah Swathwood switched so that Carrico’s would no longer include Mulberry Road. However, Carrico refused to make the switch saying the altered route would entail driving on U. S. 31, rather than a side road route. The agreement, had it been accepted, would have meant a decrease of 1.2 miles from the Carrico’s original contract, but would not have penalized her pay.
On August 2, 2011 and August 12, 2011 school administration had held Section 504 meetings with the parents of the child. At those meetings, it was determined that the student has a disability and therefore, qualifies for Section 504 services. These services include transportation to and from school on a regular education bus route with no restrictions other than the permission to carry and self-administer medication as needed. The child’s parents contended that he could, if necessary, self-administer medication from an Epinephrine injection pen that he carries in his book bag.
Carrico had not been included in the discussions.
According to Assistant Principal Randy Romer, Carrico stated that she was unwilling to administer medication to the student. At that time, Carrico was given the option of specific training on the medication use. But, allegedly Romer also told Carrico that she would not be responsible for administering medication, but only to exercise reasonable care, including contacting emergency medical personnel if necessary.
Carrico had indicated that she would transport the child if the School Corporation and the child’s parents executed a release of liability.
On September 21, the board held a hearing on the cancellation of Carrico’s contract. At regular board meetings on September 21, October 13, and October 27 the Board members voted to table a final vote.
By November 15, 2011, the parents of the child filed a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights alleging that the School Corporation had discriminated against the child because of his disability since he was not being transported on Carrico’s bus.
On December 29, Scudder corresponded with Campiti to indicate that the School Corporation intended to exercise its statutory and contractual authority to alter Carrico’s bus route after the winter break. However, Carrico through Campiti responded that she would not accept the altered route.
On January 26, 2010, the School Corporation entered into a Resolution Agreement with the student’s parents in which, among other things, required the School Corporation to alter the route of Carrico so that the route would no longer include Mulberry Road.
With continued refusal, Carrico was notified on February 3 that she was immediately suspended with pay.
During the regular meeting, Campiti tried to speak to the Board, but was finally gaveled down. Also attempting to express her feelings was parent Melissa Rozwarski. Rozwarski said, “This is not fair to other children. My kid has low blood sugar. She needs to eat on the bus.” Board President Mike Berger continued to ask that she speak to the Superintendent at another time concerning her child. After several minutes, Board Member David Grenert interjected that the meeting is not a public meeting, but rather a meeting of the Board in public.
Following the executive session, Campiti said he would be filing a law suit on behalf of his client against the School Corporation as early as next week. He said, “This was clearly a railroad job.”
Carol Anders Correspondent