Syracuse reports that a school bus driver in New York came to work intoxicated, ignored orders to stay put, and began her route.
On Friday afternoon, the driver in question had driven from the bus garage to Montessori Magnet School in Albany, arriving 30 minutes late. While children were getting loaded, a teacher who was talking to the driver smelled alcohol on her breath. The teacher notified the principal, who told the driver to stay put and went to inform the transportation superintendent and the driver’s employer, school bus contractor First Student.
However, the school bus driver drove off with the bus full of children. A First Student supervisor reached the driver by phone and told her to return to the school, which she did. However, the question was raised whether she should have even driven the bus back.
“In the future, we should probably remove the students from the bus immediately and then look to handle the adult in a different way,” said Albany City Schools Superintendent Kaweeda Adams.
Another driver took over the route. Adams said that the district is considering adding ignition locks to buses or taking other precautions in case another First Student driver shows up drunk.
The school said First Student tested the driver’s blood alcohol level and found it to be above the commercial driver limit of 0.04. The police department told WNYT that it was never called, and First Student would not say if law enforcement would be contacted. First Student said on Monday that the driver would no longer be employed with them.
Parent Karla Duffy expressed shock over the incident. “She was able to drive away, Albany police were never contacted, and then when they realized she drove away, they told her to come back,” she recounted.
A three-week time span near the start of this school saw three separate reports of bus drivers with blood alcohol levels that made it illegal to drive coming to work and driving school buses with children on board.