The partner of the new gubernatorial candidate, Jonathon "The Impaler" Sharkey, says she's been unjustly fired from her job.
News traveled fast Friday when Sharkey announced he was a vampyre and he wants to be Minnesota's next governor. Just hours after the Friday news conference, Sharkey's girlfriend learned she was losing her job as a school bus driver.
On Saturday she tearfully read from the letter the Princeton School District gave her employer, Peterson Bus. The letter says, “It is our opinion that Ms. Carpenter does not serve as a role model, nor is suitable to provide transportation services for the Princeton School District, in light of recent media reports of her husband/friend to be a vampyre who is running for public office, and Ms. Carpenter informing other bus garage employees that she is a witch.”
Carpenter, who says she’s been driving bus for Peterson Bus for five years, says she is not a vampyre like Sharkey. She says she’s a pagan and has only talked to two curious co-workers about it. She adds she never talked to students about it.
“Oh god no,” she says. “I mean this is probably going to be a shock that their bus driver wasn't a Christian. I would still say Merry Christmas and Happy Easter. I respect everyone's religion.”
Princeton superintendent Mark Sleeper referred to the letter when asked for a comment. He also said the district's contract with Peterson Bus allows it to request a change of drivers. He says it was Peterson Bus that fired Carpenter. Peterson officials could not be reached for comment Saturday.
Carpenter says its religious discrimination. Attorney Larry Leventhal, who has done a fair amount of work in civil and human rights, says Carpenter may have a case.
“She may be able to challenge the firing based on first amendment freedom of religion if she can show that that interferes with the spiritual force in her life,” Leventhal says.
But he says it depends on the facts. “On the other hand, the firing could be justified if it can be shown that her actions constituted a potential threat to students’ health or welfare,” Leventhal says.
Carpenter says she loves the students like she loves her own children.
Sharkey agrees. “She is the prime example of a loving caring mother,” he says.
She says as a child she always wanted to be a school bus driver and she would never do anything that would do harm to her students.
“Tuesday I'm going to watch buses driving and I'm probably going to cry because I love that job,” she says.
(Copyright 2006 by KARE 11. All Rights Reserved.)