DELMAR — In a unanimous decision, Bethlehem Central’s Board of Education accepted the resignation of the bus attendant linked to the incident which left an autistic student unsupervised and outside in below-freezing temperatures for two hours after he was dropped off at work in April.
Stephanie Corbett, a 20-year employee of the district, resigned to retire effective April 29. According to multiple sources, Corbett was the bus attendant present when Michael Seavey was transported by bus to his job as part of a school-to-work program on Monday, April 1. However, the business was closed for the day.
Seavey, whose communication skills are challenged due to his autism, was unable to seek help. He stood in the cold for two hours before another bus arrived to pick him up at his scheduled time.
According to a source familiar with the situation, Corbett was later involved in another incident which was immediately followed by her resignation. The Spotlight filed a request for a copy of the termination agreement under the state’s Freedom of Information Act. The district said there is no such agreement on file. The details of the incident have not been disclosed by the district.
Members of the Board of Education were asked if they were aware of the details behind Corbett’s resignation. The board’s president declined to respond, stating in an email that the board is “bound by confidentiality.”
“It is the policy of the Board and of the District that personnel matters are dealt with in Executive Session, and the Board and the administration are bound by confidentiality to not discuss such matters in public,” stated BCSD Board President Michael Cooper. “This is to ensure not only the privacy of the staff member involved but also to protect the integrity of the investigation.”
The Board of Education agreed to the resignation in its meeting on Wednesday, May 8.
Seavey, a 21-year-old student in the final year at Bethlehem Central, was enrolled in a work-to-school program on April 1. His daily schedule involved attending a few morning classes before being bused to his employer for a two-hour shift starting at 11:15 a.m. Afterward, he would return back to school for additional classes. His parents provide him a cell phone, to which he carries with him at school. However, he’s not permitted to have it while at work.
According to his parents, Seavey would be escorted from the bus by the bus attendant before he was handed off to his employer. On April 1, that did not happen. The place of business was closed for the day. The site’s owner was out of town and one of the employees neglected to inform the school. When Seavey was dropped off, the bus allegedly left before he attempted to walk into the building. Without his cell phone, he was unable to call for help. He was found two hours later, where he was dropped off. In response, the district promised new “protocols.”
“Something like this should never happen and is absolutely unacceptable,” said BCSD Superintendent Jody Monroe. “We have put in place new transportation protocols for our work program students to make sure this does not happen again… Additionally, we are working to improve the communication with our business partners who host our students.”
According to the district’s communication department, the district has worked on strengthening communications between worksites. However, there are no current investigations into the transportation department.
“I am not aware of any investigation of the department,” said JoEllen Gardner, of the district’s communications department.
Since the incident, the Seavey family has reported that Michael struggles with post-traumatic stress along with panic attacks. They have since retained the services of an attorney.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.