Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Education

Hillsborough school bus driver suspended for campaign violations

TAMPA — A Hillsborough County school bus driver who is running for School Board hit a bump in the road this month when he was caught distributing campaign material on school premises.

"Capt." Carl Kosierowski, 62, said he is on suspension and could lose his job. He said he did not know it was against school district policy to hand out bookmarks with his campaign logo to students who ride his bus.

He also gave a stack to a fellow bus driver, who had brought them in to the transportation office, where a supervisor discovered them.

Kosierowski is one of seven candidates challenging longtime board member Carol Kurdell for an at-large seat. He's been a bus driver for the district since 2004.

Kosierowski is not denying that he made a mistake. But he feels the punishment is overly harsh. "If I went through a railroad crossing with a busload of kids without stopping, I could see an immediate termination," he said. "But not this."

In a news release Monday, Kosierowski suggested his treatment might have something to do with unpopular positions he has taken in his campaign.

On his website, he upbraids School Board members for their handling of a controversy surrounding the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, whose executive director spoke to Steinbrenner High School history students last year.

Critics say CAIR harbors terrorist sympathizers, which CAIR denies. The School Board, after a half-dozen heated meetings, did not vote on the issue, but instead accepted brief instructions about speakers from superintendent MaryEllen Elia.

District spokesman Steve Hegarty said the district's handling of Kosierowski's infraction has nothing to do with what he has stated in his campaign.

"What you just described does not violate School Board policy," Hegarty said.

Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or [email protected]

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