School board fires driver Conner, won’t disclose reason

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 9, 2005

VIDALIA, La. &045; After nearly two hours of executive session Thursday night, the Concordia Parish School Board fired school bus driver Justin Connor for undisclosed reasons.

Connor also works as an administrative assistant in the Ferriday mayor’s office, is the minister at several Ferriday churches and is the president of the Concordia Parish chapter of the NAACP.

He was one of seven arrested in April on voter fraud charges. His case has not yet gone to trial.

Email newsletter signup

Connor was a non-tenured bus driver whose termination recommendation came first from the transportation supervisor H.L. Irving and second from Superintendent Kerry Laster.

Board member Raymond Riley made a motion to turn down the termination request, and Mary Campbell gave a second to the motion. That motion failed 6-3, with Riley, Campbell and Melanie Watson voting no.

Jerry Roberts made a motion to accept the recommendation to fire Connor, and Martha Rabb gave a second. The motion passed 6-3.

James Cockerham, a bus driver and president of the local School Bus Drivers Association, addressed the board before their vote.

&uot;We are here for the safety of the kids,&uot; Cockerham said. &uot;This safety is being compromised. To allow any driver to flagrantly violate the laws of the state, that simply cannot be allowed to happen.

&uot;I have seen the termination of tenured drivers for far less than the situation tonight. If you don’t respondŠthe discipline of the remaining 40-plus drivers will be non-existent.&uot;

Cockerham praised Irving’s past safety record and ability to judge safety situations.

Laster said she could not comment on any violations by Connor or explain the reason he was terminated because the matter fell legally as a personnel issue.

In other business:

4The board set a special July 28 meeting to approve any last minute personnel additions before new teacher orientation.

4The board gave permission to advertise for bids for the Vidalia High School additions and renovations. Architect Joe Brocato said taking bids was the next step in constructing the new library and science lab addition to the school.

4Director of Academic Affairs Fred Butcher gave an update on science lab and library renovations at all schools except VHS and Ferriday Junior High School. The district hopes to have all construction complete by the start of the school year. Butcher said things are on track and contractors are working through the weekends to complete the projects.

4Laster said the district is preparing to open up schools to hurricane evacuees if needed.

&uot;This will be a little bit of a problem for us, doing that with all our employees off,&uot; she said.

The administration will continue to watch weather reports and start making phone calls to employees if necessary.