A contracted school bus driver in Aurora, Illinois was arrested for drinking beer while picking up students during a morning bus route last month.
The Aurora Police Department announced that Michelle Passley, 44, was arrested and charged after she allegedly purchased beer at a convenience store and drank it while picking up elementary students during a morning bus run.
On Nov. 15, a manager from First Student Bus Company reportedly came to the police station to report an incident involving one of its drivers. The manager told an officer that a convenience store clerk called East Aurora School District 131 to report that they had just sold beer to one of the school’s bus drivers. The clerk reportedly sold beer to a woman then watched her board a school bus and drive away.
The school district contracts out its busing services to First Student, and Passley was an employee of the bus company and not the district.
First Student fired her after company officials reviewed inside video footage from the school bus after being alerted to the incident. Footage showed Passley drinking from two beer cans while picking up elementary students. The district also contacted the police at the same time, as well as the Department of Child and Family Services.
“We are incredibly disappointed by our former driver’s actions. First Student has a zero-tolerance policy for employees whose actions may put others at risk. Behavior such as this is completely unacceptable and at odds with what we stand for as a company. The driver has been terminated,” said Chris Kemper, senior director of corporate communications for First Student.
Kemper added that the company is supporting the police investigation.
A criminal investigation report stated that Passley had bought the beer after picking up the school bus around 6 a.m. She was seen drinking from the beer can, which was placed in a brown paper bag while driving 32 elementary school children.
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Passley was arrested on Nov. 18 and charged with two Class A misdemeanor counts of Engaging the Life/Health of a child. She was released on $100 bond and is scheduled to appear in the court by the end of this year.
“The Aurora Police Department is grateful for the initial concerned call to the district from the store’s clerk and the quick actions by East Aurora District 131 administrators and the First Student Bus Company for reporting the incident, so an investigation could be initiated,” the report stated.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s office is also reviewing Passley’s Commercial Driver’s License.