Jim Stanek, who has worked as a station agent for BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) for the past seven years, faces the loss of his job for giving $300 worth of tickets so a student could afford his commute to school. According to SFGate, 65-year-old Stanek gave a stack of paid, unused tickets (left behind by commuters) to the 16-year-old grandson of a friend, Lonnie Gordon. The boy’s father died last year and Gordon and his wife had stepped in to care for the teenager, a student in Herculaneum public schools.
But the teenage began to struggle in school and was suspended. Gordon and his wife sent him instead to Flex Academy in San Francisco, a tuition-free charter school. The teenager is a junior there now and has reportedly been doing much better. A round-trip ticket from the Pittsburg/Bay Point BART Station to San Francisco costs $11.00, about $200 a month and a significant expense for Gordon and his wife, both retirees.
As Gordon told SFGate, “It’s a real long commute, it’s a lot of trouble, but if it can keep him on the right track, that’s where I want him to go to school.” Stanek stepped in to help and gave the teenager the tickets, while knowing that it was against the rules — as BART spokesman Jim Allison puts it, “tickets are like cash to us.”
Stanek had to attend a personnel hearing today, April 20, and has been told that he may be forced to take early retirement. He indeed notes that he is not “unblemished,” “made a mistake” and “screwed up.” But he emphasizes that he gave the boy the tickets “not for profit – for benevolence, to help the kid.” As he says, “the penalty does not, to me, seem to be fitting the crime.”
Wouldn’t it be more of a crime for the teenager not to be attend a school where he has been successful, especially after significant troubles? Might not the boy’s needs be taken into account as extenuating circumstances and Stanek be allowed to keep his job — should not Stanek’s giving the teenager the tickets be seen as an attempt to keep a potentially at-risk young person on the right track?
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