Legal Action Against Bus Driver
This correspondence is reference the “White Slip” issued by Diana Westfall (Bus Driver) and ensuing informal meeting with Mr. Ulrich (Vice-Principal) conducted on Monday, March 17, 2007.
The bus driver, Mrs. Westfall has stated in the incident report/white slip that I, James Burdette, frequently punch middle students while exiting the bus, hit Ashley Cochran-Riedel with my mug on March 6th 2008, exited the bus at 745 Huntley Drive when my address is 747 Huntley Drive on March 6th 2008, am disrespectful to the bus driver and other students, distractful to the bus driver and endanger all on board.
I do not punch middle school students when exiting the bus and I did not hit Ms. Cochran-Biedel with a mug. Today, March 17, 2008, on the bus ride home I spoke to Ashley and when I told her what Ms. Westfall had written on the “White Slip” she laughed and stated, “No Way”. She is willing to make that statement in writing or verbally at any type of hearing convened.
She also stated in the report that I had gotten off the bus, at 745 Huntley Dr. when my address is 747 Huntley Dr. What Ms. Westfall failed to include in her counterfactual statement was that Ms. Westfall stopped the bus at my neighbor’s driveway, which is past my driveway, and we exited. We live on cul-de-sac, our driveways are separated by 61 feet of grass, not a big deal. I did not have an opportunity to exit the bus at my residence, Ms. Westfall drove past it. Ms. Westfall has established a past practice by stopping either between our driveways or at 745, not 747 Huntley since the beginning of school. When she picks up the elementary students she stops in the middle of the cul-de-sac and the children walk out to the bus. If Ms. Westfall is concerned for my safety and was uneasy that I walked up my neighbor’s driveway then I would think that she would have beeped the horn hollered (she does that well) or done something to get my attention to address her concerns, not just drive off.
The remaining comments in her statement about being disrespectful, distractful and endangering all on board are conjecture and a dramatic manifestation of an apparition, only she saw. Ms. Westfall also indicated on the form that she had told me of the white slip, gave me prior warning and had talked to me about it. That is pure fabrication, she did none of the above.
Thursday, after I had talked to Mr. Ulrich about the incident, I was thinking about why she would make something up. Later that day, when I got onto the bus, she refused to even look at me. I informed Ms. Westfall that I had a question for her, to which she attempted to bellow, “Well I don’t have an answer go sit down!” As I was about to get off I asked Mrs. Westfall, “Who did I punch?” She refused to answer, she gave me the glare and screeched, “Get off the bus I gotta’ go!” I exited (not at my driveway by the way) the bus. I perceive her dilatory responses as another example of her disdain for me.
The school district has video tapes the inside of the buses. I have been told that I cannot view the tape, do to privacy issues. Title 5 of the US code, Section 552, The Freedom of Information Act and pursuant to Executive Order 13392, “Improving Agency Disclosure of Information” the Great State of Ohio has a established a FOIA Request Service Center. I am requesting the tape not be returned to service until I have exhausted all legal means to view (with my parents) or acquire a copy.
In virtually every statute across this great land the person against whom a disciplinary/adverse action is proposed shall have the right to a copy all information relied upon to support the proposed action. Furthermore, any action taken shall be supported by a preponderance of the evidence. Mr. Ulrich has viewed the tape and he did not see me hitting any students. Ms. Riedel will state that I did not hit her. After the emotion is removed this whole alleged event cascades down to, he said, she said. This leads to the credibility of the persons involved. I have the person I allegedly struck stating I did no such thing, Ms. Westfall only has her word. I have the Vice Principal who has viewed the tape stating, he did not see me hit anyone, Ms. Westfall only has her word, and we know a picture is worth a thousand words.
Our student handbook states, The acceptance of responsibility presumes an obligation to ensure the rights of others are protected. Each student is responsible to:
7. Volunteer information and cooperate with school staff in investigations regarding school and student safety, and discipline. Responsible individuals provide information, discreetly, that may help prevent more serious problems and even avert a tragedy. Our community depends upon its citizens to uphold and respect the rules by which everyone has agreed to live. Students have the responsibility to provide truthful information when asked by school authorities.
I have read the entire “Student Handbook” and nowhere in it does it state the students must endure tyranny from an official of the Highland Local School District. I believe Ms. Westfall should be held to same high standard as a student in this school district. Last month I got written up by Ms. Westfall for talking on my mobile phone on the bus after she told me to turn it off. There is no prohibition to using a cellular device on the bus. She wrote the white slip for being insubordinate, that was a stretch. This country elects people to serve as our representatives to the legislative branches of government at all levels to create laws, rules and regulations to avoid these types of situations, someone making up new rules on the fly. I believe Ms. Westfall was ignorant to fact that using cellular phones on the bus was permitted and her personal prejudice towards me resulted in retaliation.
I believe both the “White Slips” penned by Ms. Westfall are fallacious testimony founded in a personal bias. Her contemptuousness attitude towards me this entire school year has been relentless and unbecoming a person in her position. Ms. Westfall has made false accusations with no factual data to support her position. Normally a person’s bias is based on facts, but prejudice occurs without a person knowing or examining the facts. In the first case she was ignorant to the rules and the second case is a manifestation of facts.
I request both ‘‘White Slips” be destroyed and any reference to it maintained in any/all system of records be destroyed also.