Child kicked off bus for peanut allergy, driver faces termination

By: Brandon Lewis Email
By: Brandon Lewis Email

After a lengthy closed session meeting, the Union-North school board decided to table a vote to terminate a bus driver's contract.

Driver Kelly Carrico said since before the first day of school she raised issue after learning a student on her bus route was "severely allergic" to peanuts.

"I was threatened that if i do not pick up the child in the beginning of the year, [then-Superintendent] Dr. [Terry] Barker would personally terminate my contract," said Carrico.

Carrico is an independent bus driver and picks up contracts to drive route for districts. Since she owns her own bus, she is required to have her own insurance.

"My client simply has the type of insurance and can only get the type of insurance that will cover her in an accident, if she operates the bus wrongfully," said attorney Vincient Campiti, who is representing Carrico.

Unlike insurance carried by corporation drivers, Carrico's insurance does not protect her from a lawsuit if she assists a student during anaphylactic shock brought on by coming in contact with peanuts.

"If she does it wrong, guess who gets sued? She does," said Campiti.

Under the advice of a previous attorney, Carrico said she picked up the six-year-old kindergartner on the first day however she stopped on September 7th.

"We felt that she should have driven the child. Further if there were concerns whether she should or shouldn't drive the student the answer wasn't to unilaterally decide that she wasn't going to drive him, that's something that should have been worked out with the board," said attorney Mark Scudder who is representing Union-North.

Carrico is hopeful the situation can be resolved without anyone filing a lawsuit, especially since a change in leadership occurred when Superintendent Barker left to work in Mishawaka.

"We believe there was a personality conflict with regards to Dr. Barker and my client. Dr Barker is no longer on the board here and we think there may be something that we can do to talk with the board to come to an agreement," said Campiti.

Campiti said a resolution would be if the school accepted responsibility if Carrico intervened during an allergic reaction or if she wasn't required to pick up the student.

She cannot simply change routes because she agreed to a route contract with a set number of miles and another route would be a change of contract.

The board is expected to vote on whether to terminate Carrico's contract in two weeks.

The parents of the kindergartner said they have been driving their son to school since Carrico stopped picking him up. While they are frustrated they believe the issue is between the district and Carrico with their son caught in the middle.

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