Around 7:30 a.m. on May 19, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen illegally passed a school bus at a bus stop near her home, according to a complaint filed with the Helena Police Department.
According to the information report, a red Chevy Colorado pickup drove around the bus’ fully extended crossing arm while schoolchildren were loading onto the bus at a stop near Mountain View Park on Helena’s southeast side. The bus driver said he recognized Arntzen behind the wheel and wrote down the license plate number of the vehicle she was driving, which he later submitted to police.
Montana Department of Justice Motor Vehicle Division records indicate the license plate number belongs to a red Chevy Colorado truck registered to Arntzen’s husband, Steven W. Arntzen, of Billings.
Arntzen said in a telephone interview that Montana Free Press’ Wednesday morning request for comment on the incident was the first she’d heard about it. Calling on her personal cell phone because, she said, the issue “has nothing to do with OPI,” Arntzen said she was unaware of the complaint.
“This is the first I’m hearing about this alleged incident. Your email was the first time I’m hearing about it all,” Arntzen said.
The publicly available report, which was filed the same day of the alleged stop-arm violation, provides few details about the incident. However, in a May 23 interview with MTFP, the bus driver, Stuart Beagles, provided some additional details.
Beagles said he first noticed the red pickup as he was driving uphill on South Alice Street toward the bus stop. He said the vehicle briefly stopped and then turned around and followed the school bus.
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