A veteran school bus driver who was terminated by a Minot, Maine school district, won election to serve on the same system’s school board, reports the Lewiston Sun Journal.
Mike Downing had driven an RSU 16 school bus for 45 years when he was fired for making racist and sexist comments. Downing, 68, admitted to referring to Martin Luther King Jr. Day using a racist word and to calling RSU 16 Superintendent Tina Meserve and school board chair Mary Martin a vulgar word in reference to female genitalia.
The school system fired him on Jan. 22.
But, by March 2, Downing won election to the school board as a write-in candidate. The Sun Journal reported that his dismissal was not made public and intimated that many voters likely assumed Downing had retired. Also, that they weren’t aware of his termination or the circumstances surrounding it.
In a surreal twist of fate, Downing will become Meserve’s boss this summer and will oversee the school district that he has considered suing.
“I don’t mind telling you, when I first decided to do it (serve on the board), I said, ‘Well, you know, if she gives me a hard time, I’m just going to remind her you used to be my boss and now I’m yours,’” he told a reporter. “But I’m going there with the idea that I’m going to try to make things better, not worse. It’s not a vendetta.”
Downing received previous written warnings for using slurs to reference gay men and was suspended in 2015 for three days for calling a student a “moron.” He was also reported to the administration for referring to a student as “the Negro girl” before finally being fired on Jan. 22 for his latest comments.
He added that the terms he used were once “OK” for people of his generation to use and that he has heard other drivers make similar comments in the break room.
Meserva and Martin declined to comment, citing personnel issues.