State schools

State schools chief cited for illegally passing school bus


HELENA — Police cited state Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen for a May 19 incident in which Arnzten allegedly illegally passed a school bus with flashing lights on while school children were charging.

An emailed statement from Helena Police Lt. Jayson Zander, sent late Friday morning, said an investigator met with Arntzen Thursday evening to speak to him about the incident.

“At the conclusion of the investigation, it was determined that there was probable cause to charge Ms. Arntzen with violating Montana Code Annotated 61-8-351 (meeting or passing a school bus) She received a citation and was remanded to Helena City Court, Violating the law results in a fine of up to $500.

The first news of the citation came Friday morning via email from Arntzen spokesman Brian O’Leary.

“We were advised that a citation would be issued, although we were unable to view the video in question,” O’Leary said in the email. “We have also been advised that the video does not show the license plate of the vehicle involved. That being said, Superintendent Arntzen would like to thank the bus driver for his vigilance. This is a good reminder for all of us to slow down the daily distractions of life and pay extra attention, especially as we enter the busy summer season.

Montana Free Press first reported on Wednesday the allegation that around 7:30 a.m. on May 19, Arntzen illegally passed a school bus at a bus stop near her home in the Mountain View Meadows subdivision on the southeast side. of Helena.

According to a report the bus driver filed with police, a red Chevy Colorado pickup truck swerved around the fully extended crossing arm of the bus. The bus driver said he recognized Arntzen at the wheel and noted the license plate number of the vehicle she was driving.

Records from the Motor Vehicle Division of the Montana Department of Justice indicate that the license plate number belongs to a red Chevy Colorado truck registered to Arntzen’s husband, Steven W. Arntzen, of Billings.

On Thursday evening, Zander emailed members of the media saying officers were unable to make contact with the driver of the vehicle and the investigation was ongoing.

The next morning, O’Leary sent an email stating that contact had been made and that Arntzen had been informed that she would be receiving a citation.

Requests for additional information from Arntzen’s office were not immediately answered.

The Helena-based Montana Free Press is a nonprofit newsroom. To read the article as it was originally published, Click here.