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Bus driver allowed to resume duties — with 5-year restriction

Published: Fri, February 26, 2010 @ 12:01 a.m.

By Jordan Cohen


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

WARREN — Kathy Kotanichek, the Mathews school-bus driver who became the center of controversy in the small district after she reportedly called a Lebanese-American student a “terrorist” must stay away from the child and his siblings for the next five years.

Magistrate Patrick McCarthy of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court agreed to a civil-protection order against Kotanichek that had been requested by Carol Lynne Sassya of Vienna, the mother of the child.

The order actually had been worked out by lawyers for Sassya and Kotanichek on Wednesday before Kotanichek pleaded no contest to a charge of disorderly conduct in the incident. A more- serious charge of child endangering was dropped, and Kotanichek was fined $150.

“The order will not interfere with [Kotanichek’s] employment with Mathews as a school-bus driver, but she cannot transport the Sassya family,” McCarthy said.

Kotanichek had been suspended for three days without pay last November by the school board after Superintendent Lee Seiple reviewed a videotape of the incident recorded on the bus video system. Since that time, she has been removed from driving duties and assigned to work in the bus garage. The order permits her to return to driving responsibilities.

Supporters of Kotanichek and Sassya were among the spectators as McCarthy reviewed the order.

Sassya, who was in court without her attorney, David Betras, asked to discuss the order before McCarthy ruled, and the magistrate complied. Sassya said the document was acceptable, but that did not mean she was happy with the result.

“I still believe [Kotanichek] should be terminated,” Sassya said. “She should not be allowed to be around young children ever again.”

After the hearing, Kevin Schnarrs of Vienna, who said he represents a 150-member group supporting Kotanichek, released a lengthy statement on her behalf.

“We felt all along that Kathy was the real victim,” part of the statement read. “It is our true belief that Kathy would never discriminate or mistreat a child based on generations of children who rode her bus.”

The statement said there never had been any previous complaints of prejudice against the driver.

Seiple said he is waiting to get official notification from school-board attorneys before he comments publicly on the outcome of the case.


1mrblue(1175 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

I cannot believe that her actions did not warrant termination. What type of an example has the board of education and the superintendent set??

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2Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

Kathy Kotanichek has been muzzled but no restrictions on Carol Lynne Sassya and her children expressing themselves .

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3rocky14(830 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

Talk about white trash!

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4cover2(27 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

She wasn't terminated because it never happened.

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5rocky14(830 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

Cover2---They have it on video and tape what she said.

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6cover2(27 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

Have you heard the tape? I haven't furthermore where was Sassya's attorney yesterday? Betras never pass's on free exposure, read between the lines. Ask any kid that rode that bus if the "foreigner" seat existed. A plea deal was reached just to appease a troublemaker, and it won't be long before another episode happens.

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7rayvindi(4 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

Yes, we have all now heard the tape. She is guilty of not only those comments but of eight years of torturing the Sassya children and injuring other children. I hope the other families will now come forward. Kotanichek's racist supporters owe the Sassya's a huge apology, but don't hold your breath. For these yellow-shirted bigots this was never about the truth--only their sick hate. Look at the comments they have made on various news sites--full of the same racial epithets the bus driver has been using on these kids.

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8BillyBob(92 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago


What are you talking about? They released the tape to the public - she's a racist who should have been terminated.

Is it just me, or is anyone else ASTONISHED that she just got 3 days off unpaid, then can't be around the family she harrased for years? What kind of society am I living in???? This is border-line unbelievable. No business I know would ever put up with that treatment of anyone, let alone a school with children! This so called 'punishment' makes the type of story that hits the national news for being so insane.

I wonder if the idiot busdriver supporters will now argue that they don't have proof that this was ongoing harrasment for 8 years....

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9rocky14(830 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

are they really that hard up for bus drivers in the Matthews School system?

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10cover2(27 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

Ok Ray who is we all, if she in fact had called one of these children a terrorist and was "torturing" them for 8 years then a termination would have been justified. But she didn't lose her job and a plea agreement was reached. Why? Because apparently those close to the case and the Board of Education after hearing ALL the evidence felt it wasn't warranted. When this Sassya woman sues again because it will happen as this is the second case she has brought against the school district. you keep backing her and call all those who oppose the frivolity of her case bigots,and racists and then we will see who owes who an apology. There is a lot more to this than you or I know, and your friend has now opened her children up to a barrage of ridicule from their peers so she might as well sue everybody that insults her angelic children. And lastly where has the man of the house been during all of this?

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11Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months 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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12BillyBob(92 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

Everyone has heard the tape on all the news stations yesterday, right?

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13cover2(27 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

I'm an idiot BillyBob? Stop calling me names or I'll tell my mommy. Answer all my questions. Where was her attorney? where is the man of the house? You apparently did not read my post too thoroughly she should have been terminated if in FACT she called called this kid a terrorist to his face, and if she was "torturing" the Sassya children for 8 year it would be a Slam Dunk job lost no questions. I confess I have not heard the tape but there has to be reason she didn't lose her job and racism has nothing to do with it. Kathy's supporters were from several ethnic backgrounds so calling them racists and bigots make you just like them if that is what you think.

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14BillyBob(92 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

The man of the house was interviwed on TV yesterday - all the newstations. He was not a happy man. The attorney was not present - the bus driver plead quilty.

They played the tape and she clearly said, 'stop terrorizing you terrorist' to the young boy. She CLEARLY called him a terrorist to his face - on tape. I agree, it should have been a slam dunk. Again, on tape, she called him a terorist & in a harrasing manner and she was clearly not joking.

They have said this has been going on for years now & when they check a recent tape, they proved it.

I apologize for calling you an idiot but this is bizarre. Even if provoked, you do not act that way to a child. the reactions of all the newscasters who showed the tape on all the stations explained it all - how does a schoolbus driver get away with saying that to a child?

I did not call her supporters racist at all. I'm not sure why you wrote that. I think the supporters did not see the tape and assumed she didn't say what she clearly said.

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15BillyBob(92 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

She did not pleade quilty, she plead no contest. I correct myself.

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16cover2(27 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

Since when is calling anybody a terrorist a racial slur? Timothy McVeigh was the worst terrorist in America prior to 9/11.

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17Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

USA1 :


Carol Lynne Sassya and her family are Maronite Catholics .

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18tominbrooklyn(34 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

"Since when is calling anybody a terrorist a racial slur?"

You can't be serious?! For a adult to call a child a terrorist just because of his ethnicity is without a doubt racism. Plain and simple this lady judged this child because of his ethnicity and that should not be tolerated and she should have been fired. This is a person who deals with children and when that is the first thing that comes out of he mouth for she gets upset that is unacceptable. Anyone defending a person like this is out of their mind and I question how they look at people of different races.

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19ArmyWife101(1 comment)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

How is calling someone a terrorinzing terrorist racist? If the boy had been white or black would it still be racist? Since when is the word terrorist limited to the Arabic community? At one time or another someone from each and every race has been classified as a terrorist. Does the tape show Kathy looking at this angelic child when she said it? No. The tape was frozen with an audio overlay. Kathy could have been looking in the mirror above saying it to the white girl behind her. Also consider that the whole tape was not shown...you can not base a court case on one sentence if you do not know what the full conversation was. Maybe the news crews should release the few minutes before and after the comment as well.

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20Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

What is lacking here are the comments that Hanna Sassya made to the other children on the bus . He gets to stay vocal along with his mother and Kathy Kotanichek has been muzzled .

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21cover2(27 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

Exactly armywife the public has only seen a soundbite, play the entire bus ride from the time he was picked up at school to the time he was dropped off then lets all be judgemental. And also notice the date Nov 10 it was 34 degrees that day and his mother sent him to school in a shortsleeve shirt and no coat. Oh wait maybe his coat was in his backpack but we don't know do we. How about playing the tape when he was picked up in the morning did he have a coat on then?

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22cover2(27 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

The only racists posting here are the people believing that terrorist is a racial slur anybody remember the IRA?

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23frustrated(2 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

when hanna can bitch slap a child and the child gets suspended AND it is on film something is wrong when hanna can refer to himself as a terrorist and talk about building bombs in front of teachers and other kids on the bus something is wrong when carol sassya thinks her rodent children are saints and likens hanna as Jesus then something is REALLY wrong and we are all gonna pay for it God save us !!

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