Parents seek answers in alleged school bus DUI

March 15, 2010 8:57:22 PM PDT
A meeting to address the arrest of a school bus driver who was allegedly drunk while transporting students was held in northwest suburban Mount Prospect Monday night.

"How was she able to continue driving that bus when somebody got on it and smelled alcohol?" asked one parent.

That was the question dozens of Mt. Prospect parents wanted to have answered from the school board almost a week after school bus driver Betty Burden was arrested for felony DUI. The 54-year-old was arrested after she took 50 kids home from Lyon's Park Elementary School.

"We offer our deepest apologies to the families affected by the incident. We are outraged that our students were subjected to this misconduct," said Joseph Leane, school board president, District 57.

But the board's apology may have fallen flat after the board told parents that the day before Burden was arrested after a co-worker told District 57 transportation supervisor Vicente Ramirez that Burden smelled like alcohol.

The next day, the day of the arrest, another co-worker notified the supervisor about smelling alcohol on Betty Burden's breath. Mr. Ramirez stopped Burden on her route but let her go after not detecting signs of alcohol.

"Knowing what we know now, clearly the bus driven by Ms. Burden should not have been permitted to continue on its route after it had been stopped and boarded by our transportation coordinator," said Leane.

There is an ongoing investigation into the actions of Supervisor Ramirez. In the meantime, the school board will be offering him training on how to detect alcohol.

The board will be recommending that Burden be fired at their next meeting.