The transportation manager in charge of the bus route for Kalen Kirk, 17, who was hit and killed on the way to his bus stop last spring is now accused of a cover-up to make it appear that his stop was safer than it actually was.
Brenda Young, who has worked as a manager in the transportation department for the Polk County School for more than ten years, faces a termination hearing tomorrow evening.
Young has been on unpaid leave since the summer.
According to investigators, Kirk got hit while trying to cross busy Clubhouse Road, just outside the subdivision where he lived. He crossed the road everyday to catch the bus on the other side.
Long before the accident, many neighbors complained to the district and county about how dangerous the road is when children are walking before sunrise.
According to the district’s investigation, Young told her supervisors hours after the accident that “none of my kids cross the road.”
She’s accused of then going into the computer system and adding a new route on the other side of the road so it would appear Kirk wouldn’t have to cross.
If that new stop was in place at the time, Kirk may still be alive today.
“I can’t say I’m surprised. I’m disheartened. A child died and I feel that the school board has some accountability,” said Kirsten Stehle, a concerned mother who was vocal about the dangerous road back when the accident happened in early May.
Young’s fate is now the hands of the school board. Administrators have already recommended firing her.
She plans to speak her peace at the board meeting tomorrow.
“The whole truth hasn’t been told and it will be told tomorrow,” Young told ABC Action News through her front door of her Lakeland home.
“I’m not going to talk until after the hearing tomorrow,” she said before insisting that what she did was for the safety of other students.
There still remains a problem on Clubhouse Road. Cars still zoom by, there are no crosswalks, and pedestrians still have to find a way to the other side.
The only improvement thus far: a single street light where Kirk died.
“It’s still a problem out there. I see pedestrians. I see cyclists everyday and it’s still incredibly dangerous,” Stehle said.
For now the Kirk family is staying silent on the matter.
Young had a clean record with the school board until now.