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By Hannah Black
Wyoming Tribune Eagle 

LCSD1 to require more training after bus driver arrest

 

February 24, 2022



CHEYENNE — Following last week’s arrest of a bus driver for allegedly driving students while drunk, Laramie County School District 1 drivers will be required to go through increased training, a district spokesperson said Tuesday.

David Richard Williams, 60, was arrested Feb. 16 by Wyoming Highway Patrol on misdemeanor charges of DUI and having an open container in a moving vehicle. He was booked into the Goshen County jail at 7:05 p.m. Feb. 16 and had been released sometime before Tuesday afternoon, according to the Goshen County Sheriff’s Office’s website.

His bail for the DUI charge was listed as $1,500.

LCSD1 spokesperson Mary Quast said that within two to three weeks, the district will be requiring drug and alcohol awareness training for existing drivers. This is in addition to mandatory drug and alcohol training new drivers must go through to obtain a commercial driver’s license.

About a month from now, the district will also be instituting an annual recertification class for drug and alcohol awareness. Existing drivers will then be required to go through this class each year in August, alongside other courses they already take for recertification, such as CPR.

New drivers must complete at least six weeks of training before they get behind the wheel of a school bus, Quast said.

The morning after the incident, Transportation Administrator Adam Greenwood held an in-person meeting with the district’s bus drivers, addressing the arrest and the importance of safe driving and student safety, Quast said.

Williams was pulled over on a Goshen County highway as he drove South High School students to a speech and debate tournament in Spearfish, South Dakota. A bus carrying East High School students to the same tournament accompanied the bus driven by Williams.

After receiving a call that the bus driver wasn’t staying in his lane of travel, a WHP trooper observed this behavior and pulled the vehicle over, according to previous reporting.

While pulled over near mile marker 71 on northbound U.S. Highway 85, the bus was kept warm and the students remained inside. A trooper stayed with the bus until the alternate driver arrived, WHP spokesperson Sgt. Jeremy Beck said the day after the incident.

The substitute driver then took over the bus and continued the trip to Spearfish, according to previous reporting.

Quast said Tuesday that she could not answer any questions having to do with Williams or his employment.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle had not been able to obtain an arrest or booking report.

The district posted a brief message on its Facebook page at 6:50 p.m. Feb. 16, saying a bus driver had been pulled over for a traffic stop on an activities trip for the two high schools.

“Per protocol,” it said, “a substitute driver is on the way, and our students remain safe.”

At 9:01 the following morning, a statement from LCSD1 Superintendent Margaret Crespo was posted on the page. She said a driver had been pulled over the previous evening, and that “as soon as administration was notified, we set to work on making sure that students were safe.”

Crespo wrote that the district would “never get ahead of social media in our efforts to get messages and information out to the public.” When an incident occurs, their first priority is to make sure kids are safe, and then “switch to communication mode.”

“Activity sponsors ensured the students were warm and safe on the bus. These sponsors began to contact parents,” the statement said. “During this time, students with cellphones were also in contact with their parents. A substitute driver was immediately dispatched to the location. Once we confirmed students were safe, we posted information on social media and sent out formal communication from the schools to parents and guardians.”

Despite Crespo writing that certain information could not be released because it was a personnel issue, several commenters expressed frustration that the district did not provide more details.

Crespo’s statement said the district would be “readdressing the importance of student safety with all of our transportation personnel,” but many commenters called for the district to give specifics about what it would do to prevent a similar incident from happening again.

Following the arrest, some parents are calling for child endangerment charges to be filed against the driver.

Johanna Thomas, whose daughter is a sophomore at South High and was aboard the bus driven by Williams, told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle she and others planned to push for such charges to be filed against him.

“He took every one of those kids’ lives in his hands,” Thomas said. “I think he should be held accountable, and I think he should get child endangerment for every kid on that bus.”

Quast said Tuesday that she was not aware of an effort by the district to press for child endangerment charges. She added that the incident was still under investigation.

Thomas said she attended school in the district, and her children have attended its schools for 10 years. Last week’s incident was the first of its kind she could remember in Laramie County, she said.

She suggested the district install in school buses an ignition interlock device that would require drivers to submit a breath sample before operating the vehicle, and that the district have stricter policies about who it hires as bus drivers.

Thomas added that the district should also push for child endangerment charges against Williams.

“We should never have to question ‘Is our bus driver sober?’ when we put our kids on a bus,” she said.

Thomas said she doesn’t blame any of the trip’s chaperones for the incident. She said she’d asked her daughter and her daughter’s friends if they’d noticed anything that would have indicated the driver was drinking, and they said they hadn’t.

Jessica Schwartz’s son, a freshman at East High, was on the bus accompanying the one driven by Williams. After learning about the incident, Schwartz said she was “very angry” – not just for her son, but because her cousin – Thomas’ daughter – was on Williams’ bus.

Schwartz said she had already been on edge because the students were traveling in wintry conditions that evening.

She said she would support child endangerment charges for Williams, and she wanted to know exactly what the school district would be doing to prevent this from happening again.

“I want to be able to trust the bus drivers to get my child to the event safely,” Schwartz said.

 
 

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