- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The court-appointed administrator of the D.C. public school system’s transportation division is facing calls for his dismissal from former employees after the school system lost lawsuits brought by two workers who an administrative judge ruled had been wrongly fired.

David Gilmore was appointed by a federal court in 2003 to reform the transportation division after parents frustrated with the system’s performance filed a class-action lawsuit. He has faced criticism ever since.

“Sometimes people who are accustomed to a lack of supervision, a lack of accountability, don’t react well when someone comes in and holds them accountable,” said Mr. Gilmore, 64.

In April 2004, he fired assistant terminal managers Stephenos Ulis and Alfred Richards, according to documents filed with the D.C. Office of Employee Appeals (OEA).

The termination letters said the men could appeal the decision, but their attorney, Stewart Fried, successfully argued that the school system did not provide proper notice or hearings.

In May, an OEA administrative judge awarded the men back pay, reinstatement of benefits and their former jobs. Even after the ruling became final in September, neither man received his old job or benefits.

Last month, Mr. Fried filed for a judgment in D.C. Superior Court to enforce the OEA ruling. The judgment was approved Feb. 1.

After a court hearing on Monday, Mr. Fried said the school system gave his clients four checks totaling $400,000 for Mr. Ulis’ and Mr. Richards’ back pay.

He said benefits have not been reinstated and that the school system will be responsible for paying the men’s salaries on a biweekly basis.

The school system has said that no jobs equivalent to the men’s previous positions are available, according to court documents.

Mr. Gilmore, who earns $150,000 a year but is not accountable to the school system, said he would not reinstate either man because he does not think their job performance was adequate.

Several former employees plan to protest today and tomorrow at the John A. Wilson Building. They said Mr. Gilmore has made unauthorized changes to time sheets and denied overtime.

Mr. Gilmore said he is simply enforcing overtime rules that were rarely applied before his tenure.

Other employees said they were fired for minor infractions or under false assumptions.

Former manager Ron Holt, 52, of Northwest, said he was forced to resign on the second day of this school year because five of his routes were late.

He has an open case with the OEA.

Former bus driver Timothy Reeves, 40, of Southwest, said he was fired for reputedly assaulting a child he was trying to keep from jumping out of the emergency exit. He is appealing his termination, saying officials did not investigate the incident.

Mercedes Brown, a bus driver who moved into a management position, said her tenure was marked by broken promises of pay raises and promotions.

“I still don’t know why they fired me,” said Ms. Brown, 34, of Northeast. She said she suspects the termination was related to inquiries about what she was promised.

“If I fired everybody who complained about not getting a pay raise, I’d be pretty hard-pressed to staff our buses,” Mr. Gilmore said.

He said employees should appeal anything that they consider unfair treatment and that he stands by his disciplinary decisions.

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