HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana’s top schools administrator has been cited in the case of a pickup truck that illegally passed a school bus while it was stopped to pick up students in a residential subdivision last week.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen was cited on Thursday after speaking with an officer, said Helena Police Lt. Jayson Zander said.
According to a police report, a school bus driver said a vehicle driven by Arntzen pass his bus while it was stopped to pick up children just after 7:30 a.m. on May 19 in a Helena subdivision.
The bus driver recognized Arntzen and recorded the license plate number on the red pickup truck, the police report said.
A video of the incident reportedly “does not show the license plate of the vehicle involved,” Arntzen's office said in a statement Friday.
“Superintendent Arntzen does not recall the alleged incident,” Brian O’Leary, spokesman for the Office of Public Instruction, said in a statement on Thursday. “She does acknowledge she drives a red pickup and lives in the area.”
Montana’s 2021 Legislature passed a bill to improve bus safety after a student in northwestern Montana was hit and critically injured by a driver who passed a stopped bus in November 2019.
Arntzen testified during a February 2021 legislative committee hearing in support of the bill, which called for schools to use extended stop arms in cases where students would have to cross a lane of traffic and doubled the fine for illegally passing a school bus to a maximum of $1,000.
Her office on Friday thanked the bus driver who saw the pickup truck pass his bus for being vigilant. The case now goes to Helena Municipal Court.
Amy Beth Hanson, The Associated Press