HELEN, Mont. (AP) — Montana’s top schools administrator has been cited in the case of a van that illegally overtook a school bus while it was stopped to pick up students from a residential development last week.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen was cited Thursday after speaking with an officer, police Lt. Helena Jayson Zander said.
According to a police report, a school bus driver said a vehicle driven by Arntzen overtook his bus while he was stopped to pick up children just after 7:30 a.m. on May 19 at a Helena housing estate. .
The bus driver recognized Arntzen and recorded the license plate number on the red van, according to the police report.
Video of the incident “would not show the license plate of the vehicle involved,” Arntzen’s office said in a statement Friday.
“Superintendent Arntzen has no recollection of the alleged incident,” Brian O’Leary, a spokesman for the Office of Public Instruction, said in a statement Thursday. “She recognizes that she drives a red van and lives in the area.”
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Montana’s 2021 legislature passed a bill to improve bus safety after a college student in northwest Montana was struck and seriously injured by a driver who overtook a stopped bus in November 2019.
Arntzen testified at a February 2021 legislative committee hearing in support of the bill, which called on 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.
His office on Friday thanked the bus driver who saw the van pass in front of his bus for his vigilance. The case is now in Helena City Court.
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