(Marisela Amador The Eastern Door)
The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake fired Robert Montour from his job as manager of daily transportation at the Public Works Unit on July 18, after receiving multiple complaints about his attitude from angry parents.
What was supposed to be a simple call to the transportation department to inquire about getting a bus shadow for her young son, turned out to be an extremely unpleasant experience, according to Rebecca Scott.
“It was the first time that I had called the bus station. I was looking for a new bus shadow for my son, and they (Kateri School and the Education Centre) told me to call the bus station and to speak to the bus station manager, Robert Montour,” said Scott.
According to Scott, what transpired next was unexpected.
“When I called and inquired about it, he (Montour) just jumped the gun, and he told me that he ‘doesn’t provide those services for those kinds of kids,’” she said.
When she asked him whom she should contact, he told her that he didn’t know and referred her to the MCK.
“Those ‘kinds of kids’ means special needs kids,” said Scott.
Her brief yet uncomfortable phone call with Montour left her stunned and furious.
So she did what many people do in this day and age and posted it on Facebook.
The June 26 post called him out in a derogatory manner, clearly demonstrating her anger.
Within minutes, multiple replies flooded Scott’s Facebook post, sharing similar stories and complaints about Montour and his attitude.
“That is when we discovered that we were not the only people he had done this to. He is not only treating special needs parents like this. He is treating everyone in Kahnawake like this,” she said.
When her son’s father, William Rice, contacted MCK to complain about Montour’s attitude, he was told that it was a “known issue.”
Scott said that Rice had also posted about it on Facebook the same day and that Montour found out about it and contacted Rice through social media.
Montour also made a post on his Facebook profile.
“To the (expletive) lying about talking to me over the phone about a shadow you know where I work if you want to discuss this,” read the post, also on June 26.
Scott said an MCK chief told them that the only way something would be done about this situation was if they submitted a complaint in writing to council.
Both Scott and Rice sent a letter to council. And then more angry parents sent their own letters in.
“We didn’t get him fired on our own. We had a lot of people write letters. People were saying that he has always been this way,” she said.
Some parents said when they called in to make a special request, Montour would tell them that it wasn’t a taxi service. Scott encouraged everyone who had experienced a similar negative situation with Montour to write a letter to MCK.
The Eastern Door spoke directly to Montour about his firing.
“I was doing my job. I did everything by the book. I saved MCK all kinds of money,” said Montour.
“I stopped all the shit that was going on when I got there. People were claiming overtime, and I caught it. And I told my boss about it, and I stopped it.”
Montour had been working as transportation manager for seven years.
He doesn’t deny that he spoke with Scott, but says that the problem stems from the schools and education centre.
“I got the axe because I was tired of excuses. These people calling asking to have their kids dropped at different places and I would tell them ‘no we are not a taxi.’
“The same thing at the schools, they would call to ask us to come back because the kids were late. And this went on for years with Kateri and Karonhianonhnha. Karonhianonhnha eventually admitted that they were making mistakes. The education centre is another story. Dealing with those freaking people is ridiculous,” he said.
Montour said that he doesn’t know if Scott’s post is what led to his firing because MCK never told him the reason.
He said that at around 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 18, his boss Brendan Montour, along with Kevin Kennedy, executive operations officer, “handed me these papers and told me I was done.
“Some of these complaints from parents… they lied. And the stress levels in that job were ridiculous,” said Montour.
Montour did not receive a severance package because MCK told him that he was “released with cause.” The only thing Montour received was his four percent.
“I went above and beyond. For almost two years, I was fighting with education to have them change this, to put shadows on the buses for special needs kids because their idea of integrating the kids with everybody else wasn’t working. This has been going on ever since I have been there,” said Montour.
“I have an attitude problem when I sense bullshit and excuses? And some of these parents are so two-faced. They will turn on you just like that. I went above in beyond a lot of the time for people in this town, but you don’t hear that.
“It is such a thankless job working for MCK, it’s ridiculous and I am glad that I am not there anymore, to tell you the truth.”
For her part, Scott said that she is relieved and happy he is no longer head of transportation and hopes they hire someone who is kid-friendly and has no problem speaking to the public.
The Eastern Door spoke with someone who wishes to remain anonymous, but used to work for Montour, whom he fired over text message for commenting about him on Facebook.
“All I have to say is that I did write a letter of complaint against Robert and I was very pleased with the outcome, and the MCK reached out to me and apologized for his behaviour,” the person said.
“I’m very happy that this action was taken and the MCK listened to the people when they spoke up about a major issue when it involved the children and parents in the community.”
When asked about this allegation Montour denied ever firing anybody through text.
The Eastern Door contacted MCK for comment about this situation but they declined, saying that they don’t comment on HR matters.
The posting is currently on the MCK webite for Montour’s job.