Coordinator fired after failing to remove drunken bus driver

Mount Prospect (Ill.) District 57 has fired a bus driver who was intoxicated while transporting students and dismissed the transportation coordinator who failed to recognize the driver's condition.

Betty Burden was arrested on March 9 by Mount Prospect police and charged with aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol after she registered blood alcohol content of 0.226. About a half-hour earlier, district transportation coordinator Vince Ramirez, responding to a report from another driver that Burden smelled of alcohol, directed Burden by radio to pull over the bus, and he drove to meet the bus.

Ramirez “attempted to detect any signs of alcohol use by Ms. Burden by smelling the air around her, speaking to her and observing her appearance and demeanor,” the district says. Ramirez did not observe any signs of alcohol use, so he allowed Burden to continue her route. But he decided to follow the bus and called police about his concerns. An officer who responded detected alcohol on the driver's breath. By that time, Burden had finished her route.

The district's summary of the incident also noted that Ramirez had received a report the day before about Burden's suspected drinking on the job, but he did not detect any signs of alcohol use that day. District officials also determined that Ramirez was supposed to have taken part in a 60-minute training program regarding “reasonable suspicion” of alcohol and controlled substance use, but he never received the training.

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