SOMERS, N.Y. – Somers schools transportation chief Joe Bernardi has handed in his letter of resignation.
The announcement was made Thursday evening by schools Superintendent Dr. Raymond Blanch in a letter to district families.
Bernardi, who was also the district’s chief safety officer, was placed on administrative leave while the district investigated the handling of a bus driver incident in December. The Royal Coach driver, William J. Mendez, 61, of Somers, is facing charges of being intoxicated while transporting Somers Intermediate School kids children on Bus P.
The board will act on Bernardi’s resignation at its Tuesday, Feb. 11, meeting at the Somers Middle School library.
Meanwhile, Peter Ferone has been appointed as interim director of transportation. He starts Monday, Feb. 3. The appointment last through May 29, Blanch said.
Ferone was transportation director for the Carmel school district for 18 years. He retired in 2011 and has since acted as an interim transportation director in Ossining and Mahopac.
“We welcome him to Somers,” Blanch said in the letter, adding that a search for a permanent transportation director will “begin soon.”
While the internal investigation is still ongoing, the district has admitted that at least three mistakes were made: 911 should have been called; the driver should not have been removed from the scene until evaluated by police or EMS crews; and a formal parent-child reunification process should have taken place.
A task force has been formed to help the district analyze its transportation policies and procedures. The Board of Education is also mulling the possible termination of the district's contract with Royal Coach.
Many bus drivers, monitors and colleagues have appeared at school board meetings recently to support Bernardi, who they said has had an unblemished 15-year record with the district.
Parents and others, however, have argued that someone should be held responsible for the Bus P incident.