WAYLAND, Mich. (April 21, 2014)– Monday, some Wayland Union School parents were waiting to see whether the school board would make a decision on whether or not to keep Transportation Supervisor Jeff Schilthroat on the job by renewing his contract.
No decision was made; however, the superintendent is asking parents to resubmit complaints dealing with school buses to a different administrator.
Schilthroat’s job performance has been under scrutiny following an assault on a bus which was captured on security video.
Documents FOX 17 obtained through the Freedom of Information Act showed that he attempted to hide a portion of that video that showed the bus driver’s reaction from the parents.
“We’re here to advocate for our children,” said Amber Canfield, a concerned parent.
Parents including Canfield, who said her son received serious bruises on a bus ride, are lobbying for change in the district following problems on Malissa Westfahl’s bus.
Concerned parent Tiffany Chichester said her biggest issue with Westfahl was, “Her really not addressing the situations on the bus.”
Mom Amanda Reed said Westfahl intimidated her son and called him “Mohawk,” and that she alerted Schilthroat about it, but nothing was officially documented regarding her complaint.
Schilthroat told administrators during a meeting that she did indeed call Reed and her husband, “the Mohawk parents”.
“She was screaming at him and referring to him as that as his name, and he’s a person,” said Reed.
Canfield’s child with special needs was assaulted by other children on March 11.
Documents showed that Schilthroat admitted that he stopped the video after a certain point so they couldn’t see Westfahl’s behavior.
“ They didn’t need to see her (MW) being unsympathetic to their son. It was an embarrassment to the school and the department,” said Schilthroat.
Following that FOX 17 investigation, Canfield said she was shocked at that information that was uncovered and broke into tears.
“Yes, when I watched the news and I seen that, I bawled,” she said.
“I cannot believe that someone would keep that from me. It’s my child, I wanted answers,” said Canfield.
The minutes from that hearing seemed to show that other complaints from parents weren’t being reported either with no formal write-up.
When asked by administrators, “Why have employee discipline records not been forwarded to HR rather than kept at the Trans. Office?”
Schilthroat responded, “I have not disciplined many since I started….”
Westfahl was also questioned about the incident in which the child was assaulted.
During her interview, this was how she described it to the administrators who were questioning her.
“This is poor student management,” said Bill Melching. “ This stuff can not happen on our buses.”
Westfahl says that the child, “was the instigator with his mouth.”
Melching says, “that is not a right to hit someone.”
Superintendent Norm Taylor said, “There has been a FOIA request for this video from the Media. Any layperson who sees this will see an uncontrolled bus.”
“There have been multiple comments on bus safety and ‘bullying’,” said Taylor.
Westfahl says, “and these are the Steeby to Baker shuttle kids, not my kids.”
Melching said, “There has to be better student management on the buses, I can’t believe all the buses are like this, and if some can be orderly, they all can.”
Also, the timeline in which Schilthroat reported the incident to the superintendent appeared to take a few days.
Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that the bus assault took place on March, 11.
March, 12 Schilthroat told administrators he learned of the assault.
On March, 14 Schilthroat said he reported it to Superintendent Norman Taylor.
However, upon further review of that interview, Taylor said he did receive and email on the incident earlier than March, 14.
“As a clarification,” said Taylor. “I forwarded the initial Canfield email to me on to Mr. Schilthroat on Wed., March 12; had an email exchange from Mr. Schilthroat on Thursday, March 13; and spoke to him by phone about the matter on Friday, March 14 – so we did communicate about this matter prior to March 14, 2014.”
As for whether Schilthroat’s contract should be renewed, board members say they can’t go into detail.
“The investigation with one person is ongoing and the other individual is in the middle of a decision, that’s where it’s at,” said Jeff Salisbury, Wayland Union School Board Trustee.
When asked if he would like to see Schilthroat step down, he said, “We aren’t given all of the information because there might come a point in the future where there might have to
come a hearing. So, the jury, the seven member jury so to speak, really can’t be prejudice in any way. So, some of that we are kept at arms length deliberately.”
A woman who works at Wayland Union Public Schools emailed FOX 17, saying she was in attendance of the meeting, asking us to interview those who support Schilthroat.
Vicki Sweet requested that we, “Interview staff members at Wayland who think very highly of Jeff Schildthroat. All staff member at all levels.”
However, she declined our request for an interview.
She also did not speak during the public comment period at the meeting.
The only person who has openly spoken in public, on camera, in support of Schilthroat has been one of his employees, John Hyke.
He said that although he made a mistake, it would be a bigger mistake to let him go.
Superintendent Norm Taylor said during the school board meeting that any parents that felt that their bus complaints were not documented should submit them again through email.
He’s asking parents to email Bill Melching, Acting Transportation Supervisor, at: email@example.com