Tarrytown school bus driver goes on hunger strike after suspension

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Marcus Solis reports on the school bus driver who went on a hunger strike after being suspended by the Tarrytown School District

A Tarrytown School District bus driver went on a hunger strike to protest his suspension over an incident involving a fellow driver, demanding a meeting with the superintendent.

Tony Tola has the support of many in the community, and he's on a mission to clear his name. But what the veteran driver did not have was anything to eat since last week.

"I feel weak," he said. "The weather's been hot these days."

Tola started a hunger strike on Friday, one day after an altercation with a fellow driver. Tola says that co-worker grabbed him in a dispute over an upcoming union election.

"This guy came and grabbed me by the neck, and he squeezed my neck," he said. "So I had to push him, and I called the police."

No criminal charges were filed, but Tola was told to sign a warning letter that would go in his employment file. He refused and was suspended for insubordination.

Tola decided to park his car in front of district offices at Sleepy Hollow middle and high schools, and for five days, he collected petitions and slept in his car, surviving only on fluids.

"Tony's a nice person," former co-worker Flor Borrell said. "He takes care of everybody, the children. He's a gentleman."

Parents were also upset.

"I'm very upset and feel frustration over what happened to the driver," Sully Madrigral said. "He's been working here 18 years."

The school district tells Eyewitness News that it cannot comment on personnel matters, but the superintendent did meet with Tola Tuesday morning. Afterward, Tola said he would end his hunger strike.

"If they check the video cameras, if they call the witness, they'll know who the aggressor is," he said. "I've worked here 18 years. My record is clean."

The matter is not fully resolved, but Tola believes he will be vindicated. He will return to work next week.

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