• More than 200 APS maintenance workers petition for boss to be disciplined

    By: Richard Belcher


    ATLANTA - Channel 2 Action News has learned that scores of Atlanta school maintenance workers have signed a petition claiming their boss should have been disciplined for wrecking two school board cars.

    Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher has learned the boss did lose his driving privileges, but the workers want more.

    More than 200 school board workers signed a petition critical of the boss.

    Records obtained by Channel 2 Action News show that APS Maintenance Director Richard Ernst caused two wrecks in a 16-month period. According to the police report on the latest incident, Ernst was following too closely when his school board Ford Fusion rear-ended a small pickup truck in June.  The first wreck, in March of 2012, was also a rear-ender.  

    After the second wreck, the school system notified Ernst that he is no longer eligible to operate vehicles owned or leased by Atlanta Public Schools.

    Records show that Ernst is paid about $96,000 a year to be director of maintenance, and there's no indication he's been demoted.

    In fact, Channel 2's cameras found Ernst is still parking his personal car in his marked spot. A lot of his employees say there is a double standard.

    "He drives a board vehicle just like we do. And we all should be held to the same accountability," said APS maintenance worker Vincent Williams.

    Williams said a lot of maintenance workers have been demoted after accidents.

    "And now the same thing has happened to him. He lost his driving privileges. And we want the same fairness, no matter who you are," Williams told Belcher.

    In a remarkably public move, more than 200 APS workers signed petitions complaining about Ernst and submitted the petitions to the school system's human resources office.

    "Are you worried about losing your job for doing this?" Belcher asked Williams.

    "No, I'm just telling the truth," Williams answered.

    Belcher caught up with Ernst, who was not anxious to talk. When asked about the situation, Ernst drove away from Belcher and his photographer.

    School board policy requires that any employee involved in a wreck while driving an APS vehicle must take an alcohol and blood test within two hours.

    The system sent Belcher a memo Tuesday, saying Ernst complied. The memo was written Monday, but APS has not provided any records to verify the dates and times of the tests as of the writing of this story.

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