Wayne Board hears Parent rebukes of the district’s handling of drunk bus driver incident
At the Wayne Central School Board meeting on Thursday (11/7), parents and taxpayers filled the cafeteria of the Freewill School.
Many came to hear the school board and the administration give answers concerning two recent events involving staff who were drunk on duty.
Last Wednesday, Julynn Criscuolo, a bus driver for the Wayne Central School District, was suspected of being intoxicated while operating the school bus after dropping off children. She was sent for processing to a facility to test her blood alcohol level, was driven home, with her vehicle returned and was suspended pending an investigation. The Times learned that the school district did not notify the police about the incident, until the next day (Thursday 10/31), when they heard about the head on car crash, in which Crisuolo was involved later that day, which severely injured another woman.
The public was also made aware earlier in the day, (on Thursday 11/7) of another incident involving a Wayne Central English teacher April Roods, who was presumed to be intoxicated during her 1st period English class. Police were called in and the teacher was removed and arrested. (see full story page C3)
It was the handling of the notification or non-notification of the bus driver incident that seemed to anger and worry the members of the community.
Speaking during the public comment portion of the school board meeting, resident Ann Vandusen said she had doubts that the public would have heard of the school bus incident if the later car crash had not occurred. “It made me wonder if a cover up was in the works. I can’t believe the district could not get a hold of someone to make a police report.” She also felt that, had they not been closely watched due to the bus incident, the teacher incident might have been covered up.
Stacy Pickering asked if she had heard a comment wrong, coming from the board in an early statement at the meeting. “Did I hear you say that the district was not aware until 5 pm on Friday that Ms. Criscoula had been delivering children while intoxicated? Did I hear you wrong? It was reported that the police were called by administration on Wednesday, the day after the incident. She questioned why it took so long to notify the parents.
Terri Schultz, a bus driver noted that she had watched the media coverage of the bus incident and car crash involving her co-worker and felt horrible for Julynn (the driver) and for the victim in the other car. “I just thought they must have got it wrong. It was not in Julynn’s character. I sat up that night and read our laws and regulations and tried to look at school policies to understand how this happened. I am a bus driver, I am in that seat and I feel scrutinized. Fred Prince (Wayne’s transportation director) takes his job very seriously. We are all upset by this.
Anna Prinsen, who said that she used to drive bus, wondered why breathalyzers could not be given before each driver went out on a run, since random testing is often done.
Following an extended time of Public Comment, the School Board went back to the agenda for the evening.
Board of Education member Carla Boerman read a prepared statement.
“It has been a very sad week at Wayne Central. For this alumni, the recent events of the past week and recent months have been very disheartening. This is not who we are as a community and a District. We are a vital, caring community that believes in their children and only want the best – myself included. Wayne Central is comprised of very talented professionals and hard working staff members who come to work every day to teach children, mentor new teachers, feed students, drive students home, coach athletes, maintain our buildings, mop classroom floors, answer phones and so much more. Unfortunately, sometimes one bad incident can put a black eye on our District. These incidents will be resolved to the satisfaction of the Board and, in time, these black eyes will heal.”
A district press release was also issued and made available to the public, stating in part… “The School District can confirm that Ms. Criscuolo, a nine year District employee with no prior discipline incidents, was removed from her bus by the Director of Transportation, who had a reasonable suspicion that she was under the influence if drugs and/or alcohol. Unfortunately, before Ms. Criscuolo was removed she had completed the high school/middle school afternoon bus run. A substitute driver replaced Ms. Criscuolo on the bus and performed the Ontario Elementary and Ontario Primary bus run. We are grateful that all students were transported home unharmed while we were working to replace her with a substitute bus driver.” Later in the School Board agenda, Ms. Crisulolo’s irrevocable letter of resignation was accepted.
The meeting did allow time for some good news within the district.
Mr. Tom Siembor gave a presentation of a trip that he and several other teachers took to Japan.
Mention was made of a Wayne Central student who was named the Channel 10 Student/Athlete of the week. Justin Morrison who is a football team running back and return kicker, has recorded over 1200 yards running and 21 touchdowns, including 6 touchdowns during sectionals, and who carries a 95 GPA at school, was honored and congratulated. He also coaches a flag football team of autistic children.
A presentation from Wayne Teachers Association president Jason Carter and vice president Kim Schultz was given to the Wayne County Literacy Volunteers in honor of the Wayne Central Board of Education. The WTA presented Literacy Volunteers Executive Director Chris Edgar with $200 in books for their program in the School Board’s name.
Ron Miller was voted in as interim member of the Board of Education, and Gerry Meiler was named to the Audit Committee. Both were sworn in at the meeting.
A board member discussed that a summary in a prior board minutes of a public comment had been misinterpreted, she wondered if the minutes should be updated to reflect the error. Board President Philip McTigue discussed the possibility of having public comments struck from the minutes, as they are not a requirement. He thought that at an upcoming meeting, it could be put on the agenda to discuss and possibly vote on.
Board member Tim Reynolds noted, with sadness, the passing of Al Gentile, at the age of 90, who worked for the district for 35 years, in Physical Education. He had recently been named to the firt class of the Soccer Hall of Fame at Wayne Central.
Carla Boerman also noted with sadness the passing of the father of District employee Mary Ann Kritall.
After a brief second public comment time, Board President McTigue made the following personal comments.
“I would like to first express my gratitude to many of those who have spent countless hours unraveling the tragic events of October 30th and assisted in gathering accurate facts. Although I cannot express the opinions of the entire Board, I do feel obligated and compelled to express my own opinions to the community that has entrusted this position to me.
I am HIGHLY disappointed with several aspects of how this critical situation at the school district has been handled. I have voiced these concerns to the appropriate officials and I would like to request patience from our community as the events that have occurred are evaluated.
I do not feel it is currently prudent to divulge the details of my personal frustrations, but I can assure the community I am listening and aware of your concerns. We need personnel trained and tested on the process for handling allegations. I am highly critical of the non-involvement of law enforcement until the next morning. Law enforcement should have been contacted earlier. Once the situation was discovered it was wrongfully addressed as a personnel issue. Although the catastrophic event is now over, the full residual effects of this day are not. I again request your patience.”
The next Wayne Central School Board meeting will be held on December 12th at 7:00 pm in the District Board meeting room.