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In deal, Mathews bus driver keeps job



Published: Thu, February 25, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

The defendant will get transferred to drive a different Mathews school bus.

BY JORDAN COHEN

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

photo

DEFENDANT: Mathews school bus driver Kathy Kotanichek waits outside Girard Municipal Court on Wednesday

GIRARD — Mathews school-bus driver Kathy Kotanichek, accused of referring to a Lebanese- American child on her bus as a “terrorist,” was found guilty of disorderly conduct Wednesday but will keep her job, according to a settlement worked out by both sides.

Kotanichek, of Burghill, had been suspended for three days without pay last November after her comments were recorded on the bus videotaping system.

Carol Lynne Sassya, Vienna, the student’s mother, subsequently filed charges of endangering children and disorderly conduct against Kotanichek in Girard Municipal Court, whose jurisdiction includes Vienna Township.

After backroom negotiations between the two sides that lasted nearly six hours, Judge Michael Bernard dismissed the endangering-children charge. Conviction could have carried penalties of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The judge found Kotanichek guilty of the lesser charge after she pleaded no contest. He fined her $150.

“Actions by this woman toward my children were cowardly,” Sassya told the judge before his ruling. “She should never be allowed to do this again and should stay from my children.”

Kotanichek’s attorney, Robert Platt, said the more serious charge was dropped due to “lack of evidence.” The attorney said that under the agreement, Kotanichek will not lose her job and eventually will be assigned another bus route.

Kotanichek said she would not talk on the advice of her attorney.

Since her suspension, Kotanichek has been reassigned to work in the bus garage. She is also prohibited by a civil-protection order from having any contact with Sassya’s children till mid-April.

As part of the settlement, the order will be extended to five years when it is presented before a magistrate in Trumbull Common Pleas Court this afternoon.

The incident clearly divided residents of the Mathews district. At a Feb. 18 board of education meeting, supporters of Sassya and Kotanichek filled the high school cafeteria during an emotional session in which representatives of both sides voiced their feelings to board members.

Sassya, who had earlier called for Kotanichek to be fired, indicated she could accept the decision.

“There will be no more comments from her and no more [attempts] to intimidate my children,” Sassya said. “This is a victory for my family.”

Mathews Superintendent Lee Seiple had been summoned to participate during the negotiations that led to the plea and settlement.

Attorneys for both sides indicated that Seiple, who had earlier indicated conviction would likely mean dismissal for Kotanichek, would go along with the agreement

Subsequent messages left for Seiple after the conclusion of the court case were not returned.


Comments

1Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Carol Lynne Sassya and her children are now free to express their political views and Kathy Kotanichek has been muzzled .

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2ARMYMOM(1 comment)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

I BELIEVE KATHY IS INNOCENT OF ALL CHARGES. I KNOW FOR A FACT THAT SHE ONLY TOOK THIS PLEA DEAL TO END THE WITCH HUNT THAT THIS CASE HAS BEEN. IF PEOPLE WOULD TAKE THE TIME TO LOOK INTO THE ACCUSING FAMILY'S BACKGROUND THROUGH PUBLIC RECORDS AND LEARN WHAT I HAVE LEARNED I BELIEVE THEY WOULD ALSO BACK KATHY. I HAVE KNOWN KATHY FOR A FEW YEARS NOW AND HAVE HAD THE OPPERTUNITY TO GET TO KNOW HER WELL AND I KNOW THAT SHE IS NOT A BIGOT OR ANYTHING LESS THAN A CARING AND WONDERFUL HUMAN BEING. I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO BELIEVES IN HER. HER MULTITUDE OF SUPPORTERS ALSO SHOWS WHAT KIND OF A PERSON SHE REALLY IS. THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE IS A SAYING THAT APPLIES HERE. THE ENTIRE TRUTH WILL COME OUT AND SOON.

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3ps(4 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

She was caught on tape saying it. Whether she ment it or not should be the determining factor to decide if Kathy gets to keep her job. If the board of education decides that she ment the comment in a vendictive way, perhaps they could get Kathy some help instead of adding to the unemployed rolls.

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4cover2(27 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

This whole episode is an absolute joke. The kids on that bus have all stated there was no "foreigner" seat. Kathy was adored by most every passenger on that bus except the Sassya children. This will not be the last you will hear from Carol Sassya and the school district she will find some other way to garner attention. Her children after all are so involved in extra curricular activities "NOT" and if they were what bus driver is going to want to take them to any activity.She just turned her kids world into a living nightmare and they are going to be the victims of an onslaught of ridicule.

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5BillyBob(92 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

@cover2

We all heard the tape - either there is something seriously wrong with you to think that type of comment is acceptable AT ALL, EVEN ONCE or you know this woman personally & are standing up for her. I noticed you just created an account to comment on this particular story so my guess is you know her.

If I made that comment to an adult at my job, I'd be terminated, rightfully so.

Your saying that the family will be the victims of an onslaught of ridicule. Why? Because they stood up for what was right like they should have?

I'm hoping this story hits national news so this school district can be seen for the idiots they are - giving a slap on the wrist to a racist schoolbus driver harrasing the children they are paid to serve (paid by the parent's taxpayer dollars).

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6Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

We have not heard the last of Carol Lynne Sassya or her family . Will they manage to muzzle everyone who responds to their comments ?

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7BillyBob(92 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Stan
Can you explain what you mean? Sorry, I haven't slept in a few days.....

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