During the public hearing portion of Thursday’s Board of Education meeting several members the AFL-CIO Transportation Workers Union Local 100 said they were upset that the district disqualified one of their school bus drivers, Nadia Micourt, from driving in Greenwich.
Drivers who parked at Central Middle School for the meeting discovered flyers on their windshields featuring an unflattering photo of Deputy Superintendent Dr. Ann Carabillo wearing a yellow dunce cap labelled “bully” with marks for “Fairness F,” Due Process F,” and “Bullying A+.”
The flyers were also blown up into posters on easels lining the back of the auditorium.
Back on April 3, Dr. Carabillo sent a letter to the bus company, saying, “This letter is to disqualify Nadia Micourt (driver) from transporting any students from Greenwich Schools.”
She wrote that on March 31 she followed Ms Micourt driving a school bus away from North Street School and witnessed Ms Micourt driving between 20 to 26 miles per hour while cars backed up behind her. Further that she crossed the double yellow times more than 15 times.
“When she approached curves, she strayed into the on-coming lane (crossing the double yellow line) and one was not able to see if there was oncoming vehicles,” Carabillo continued. “When she approached Lower Cross Road, she put on her signal light and was partially in the on-coming lane. As a result of this dangerous behavior, this driver should be removed immediately.”
On Monday of this week, all the school bus drivers in Greenwich called in sick in support of Ms Micourt.
The district did not receive word of the sick-out until 5:30am.
The district quickly emailed, texted and robocalled families at 6:00am, but that wasn’t enough notice for many people.
On Thursday night, after students were recognized and the 2023 Distinguished Teachers were applauded, the meeting turned to public comment.
PTA Council president Frances Wu Nobay said she was eager for an explanation of Monday’s bus situation.
“Kids standing on street corners, parents scrambling and scratching their heads at the cryptic early morning email,” she said.
Richard Davis, president of the Local 100, which is comprised of 42,000 men and women, said Ms Micourt was professional and had no accidents in 23 years.
“Nadia had her job taken away based on one alleged observation. No prior warning. No ability to defend herself. No hearing. No due process. Nothing,” Davis said. “Nadia was treated like a second class citizen.”
He said the union’s problem was not with First Student who have the contract for bus service in the district, but rather with the district administration.
Davis referred to the decision by the administration as Draconian.
Ms Micourt’s daughter Emily Eliezer described her mother as a hard worker and provider who was anticipating her retirement.
“We’re here to ask the board to reconsider,” she said.
Gus Moghrabi said he was chair of the union’s school bus division with more than 3,000 drivers, monitors and mechanics in Westchester, Queens, Brooklyn and Greenwich.
“Nadia should be recognized today – 23 years with no accidents or incidents, she should be recognized for safety. Unfortunately, she was disqualified on the decision of one person,” Moghrabi said. “I looked at the video and could see nothing she did wrong. She did pass over the double yellow line. We all do this as bus drivers. If there is oncoming traffic we tend to go toward the middle lane and avoid what is on the right.”
Moghrabi said the school district transportation director had told him he had not seen the video.
“Because of the arrogance of one person, you tell them you’re done. That is not acceptable. The drivers won’t accept it.”
“We have a grievance process. She could have been disciplined by the company if she did anything wrong. All they have to do is pick up the phone and say listen I saw her driving dangerously, unsafe. They would call her in, look at the video, call the union and we go through our process. You wouldn’t believe how many we times wouldn’t find for unsafe drivers.”
Moghrabi said he’d been told by Greenwich’s Schools transportation director that Ms Micourt could go to another district.
“If she’s dangerous, why would I send her to another district?” Moghrabi asked. “This is not fair…People have a right to face their accusers. Too much power to give to anyone.”
Superintendent Dr. Toni Jones was asked by Michael-Joseph Mercanti-Anthony to address the situation.
Jones said the board does not respond to public comments and it was not an agenda item, but she would share brief remarks.
“The contract is with First Student. It’s not our union and it’s not our employee,” Jones said. “We don’t ever take situations like this lightly.”
“My understanding was the employee was offered actually still to drive for the company, that she is planning on retirement and this was not impacting that, but that would need to come from First Student, not from us,” Jones said. “It is challenging, but if someone is noted as driving unsafe this is the decision that we will take.”