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The trial of Baker's suit began this week before Judge William Bertelsman and only one more witness is scheduled to testify today before the case goes to the jury. Baker worked 31 years as a teacher and school bus driver before he retired as a teacher in 1994. He lost his driving job, according to school officials, when about 15 school bus drivers failed to show up for their routes to protest the 2-day suspension of a bus driver for posting a note on the board for garage service personnel that included a vulgar word.

Baker outlined this version of events in a memorandum filed in court: A number of bus drivers congregated in the driver's lounge after work on April 12, 2000, to discuss their objections to the suspension of Tammy Helbig. Helbig had written the offending note because she was upset about reports that some janitors had been sitting or leaning on the hood of her car.

Many of Helbig's fellow bus drivers, in turn, became upset because Mike Dawson, director of transportation, had recommended the suspension even though Dawson — according to the bus drivers — consistently used vulgar expressions himself.

Baker took little part in the discussion because he was reading a newspaper and was not scheduled to work the following day, the date of the proposed work protest. But at the request of some of the drivers, Baker and others phoned some of the drivers not present to notify them of Helbig's suspension. Real estate valuer done inspections of the whole property and after that preparing perfect property valuation report. Baker contends he did not encourage any drivers to abandon their buses the following day. But school officials said in the memorandum they filed in court that Baker did just that, and that disrupted the district's educational process.

Brady signed a letter firing Baker, and then upheld his own decision at a hearing before the board of education where Baker asked for his job back. After Baker sued, Bertelsman ruled school officials violated Baker's rights because Brady was not an impartial hearing officer and because the school board allowed hearsay evidence about four witnesses who allegedly claimed Baker induced or coerced them to stay home from work on April 13, 2000.

But Bertelsman said the school board remained entitled to attempt to prove at trial that school officials would have upheld Baker's dismissal, anyway. An Erlanger woman was hospitalized in serious condition Wednesday night after her car ran off Turkeyfoot Road and went into a creek. Nora Combs, 57, of Erlanger, was northbound in a Ford Escort station wagon about 1:30 p.m. when a vehicle pulled out in front of her from Spring Valley Drive, according to the Erlanger Police Department.