Polk school employee accused of lying, cover-up after student’s death

LAKELAND

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Polk County School District employee is expected to fight for her job Tuesday, amid allegations she lied and tried to cover up information following the death of a student who was hit while trying to cross the street to get to his bus stop.

Brenda Young is accused of giving false information to district management following the death of George Jenkins High student Kalen Kirk in May. Kirk was hit and killed by a driver as he ran across Clubhouse Road to get to his bus stop.

District officials claim during meetings the day of the accident, Young was dishonest and told her supervisors Kirk was assigned to a bus that did not require him to cross Clubhouse Road. Young’s job duties include managing bus routes and student bus assignments in her designated district, which included a segment of Clubhouse Road.

Later that day, Kirk’s bus assignment was changed in the computer system.

The school district claims Young made changes to the bus route in the computer system to back up her claims.

According to school records, during a hearing in August, Young admitted to changing the bus routes the day of the crash, but claimed she did this to create a new, safer bus stop for students living in Summerland Hills, not to cover anything up.

During the hearing other school district employees testified that during previous meetings, Young denied making any changes to the bus route in the computer system.

After the hearing, Superintendent Jacqueline M. Byrd recommended Ms. Young’s employment be terminated. A hearing officer later upheld the Superintendent’s recommendation. Young’s termination would have went into effect already, however, she filed exceptions and is now expected to speak on her behalf during Tuesday’s board meeting. Board members will decide whether to terminate her.

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