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KAT seeks attorney's ruling on situation with bus driver

WILLMAR -- Kandiyohi Area Transit is hiring an attorney to untangle a situation involving a bus driver who was cleared of criminal charges and who now wants his job back.

In October Patrick Shawn Dokken, a 35-year-old bus driver for KAT, was charged with criminal sexual conduct involving an 18-year-old man who was initially thought to be a vulnerable adult.

Dokken had been on unpaid investigative leave from KAT since the charges were filed.

Last week, however, those charges were dropped and Dokken asked to be reinstated.

At its meeting Tuesday, the operations board decided to retain Dean Anderson, a Willmar attorney, to lead KAT's own investigation into Dokken's conduct and to reach a conclusion on his future employment.

Even though the charges were dropped, Dokken may have violated KAT's code of conduct that could result in disciplinary action. "KAT is having to make its own decisions now on how to handle that," KAT Transit Director Tiffany Collins said.

Collins said KAT wants to take some time to make sure its policies and procedures are being followed before deciding Dokken's employment status.

Another complicating factor is that Dokken's job has been filled by another full-time bus driver. After using existing staff for three months during Dokken's leave -- and not knowing how long the legal process would take -- Collins said the new employee began working for KAT Jan. 2.

In other action:

- The board was informed that a change in reimbursement from Medical Assistance means senior volunteer drivers may not have 100 percent of their travel costs covered. The program will only pay the driver when they are transporting someone to an appointment, like an out-of-town hospital, but will not pay the driver for miles spent driving home alone and returning later to the hospital to retrieve the patient. Efforts are being made to find funding for the program.

- The board said they wanted more time to study a proposed operations policy that would outline when KAT bus drivers could make personal calls on KAT's cell phones.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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