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Elsie Arntzen fined after accused of driving by school bus

Elsie Arntzen fined after accused of driving by school bus

Montana’s top education official might need a safety lesson after she was fined for driving around a school bus.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen was slapped with a $100 fine Tuesday after she was cited for illegally passing a stopped school bus while students were getting on.

Arntzen pleaded no contest to the citation in Helena Municipal Court, meaning she didn’t admit guilt but wasn’t going to dispute the accusation, court records indicate.

In the elected office since 2016, Arntzen claims she doesn’t recall the incident.

But the East Helena Public Schools bus driver recognized her on May 19 and jotted down the license plate of the pickup truck that passed the bus, according to police reports.

Police also received two photos from the school system from the school bus camera that shows the incident.

“We all need to be mindful, as I have no memory of this, and that’s why I did a no contest to this,” Arntzen said in court, according to KTVQ. “But we need to be mindful, especially when our buses are picking up our precious children. Our parents and our children deserve that. I also want to say thank you to the bus driver for being so diligent.”

Helena Municipal Court Judge Anne Peterson pulled $400 of the $500 fine and told Arntzen she could get the citation removed if she has a clean driving record over the next two months, court documents said.

Arntzen was previously a state representative and state senator before taking on the public school office.

A spokesperson for Arntzen said the incident was a good reminder for all drivers when buses are picking up and dropping off kids, according to the Helena Independent Record.

“School bus safety is a very important issue and the Superintendent encourages everyone to be alert and mindful when school buses are picking up and dropping off our children at the bus stop and at school,” the statement says, according to the local newspaper.

“This is a good reminder for all of us to slow down from life’s daily distractions, and to pay extra careful attention, especially as we enter the busy summer season. The safety of our children must always come first.”

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