WEST MILFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey school bus driver was in hot water Monday night over an unauthorized stop to use the restroom while on the job.
As CBS2’s Lou Young reported, the kids were not left unattended at the time. But the driver, Gaye Kish, could still lose her job.
Kish, 60, has been driving a school bus in West Milford for 21 years. She is trying hard not to make public comment in defense of her livelihood.
She is in trouble with the West Milford School District for a breach of procedure in the face of a medical emergency.
Twenty feet from the road to Mary Ellen Kontradino’s front door, Kish had to use the bathroom severely because of a medical condition she said her employer is aware of. She chose what seemed to be a fairly simple solution – calling ahead for a quick pit stop while Kontradino minded the store.
“I got on the bus. I just stood on the stairs. I didn’t get near anything, and I talked with the children. They seemed calm and you know, happy, ‘Hi, how are you,’ and we were talking,” Kontradino said. And she quickly ran in. My husband opened the door. She quickly ran in and quickly ran out. That was it.”
The official reason Kish is now jammed is that she made a cellphone call and briefly left the bus with the children still on board. But no one complained.
So how did Kish’s supervisor’s find out about it? She told them herself, just to be on the up and up – in what may have proved to be her biggest mistake.
“I turned myself in. It’s not turning myself in — procedure is to tell, and I told,” she said.
“Personally I said to her: ‘You told him? What did you tell him for?’ She says, “I’m supposed, to you know.” I says: ‘For what though? It’s an emergency,’” Kontradino said. “What are you supposed to do in that case?
The driver is supposed to call her dispatcher and wait for medical relief. But no one thinks there is time for that.
“I have the same medical condition, and if you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go,” one man said, adding that he did not think Kish should be fired.
CBS2’s Young stopped in to ask Kish’s supervisor about it. Through a closed door, a woman who identified herself as the secretary said the supervisor was not there.
The school district did not return CBS2’s calls Monday, but did call the police to ask CBS2 to lave.
Kish said she has had prior no disciplinary problems. But her future is on the school board agenda for Tuesday evening.