Bus driver back at work after texting allegation

ARLINGTON — A bus driver with the Arlington School District returned to her route this week after an investigation into a complaint that she was texting and driving.

The district received the complaint from the mother of a Post Middle School student, after her son observed the driver’s behavior. The 13-year-old was riding the bus when he saw the driver texting. His friend took a photo of the bus driver.

Her son told her about the bus driver’s actions, Kim Cunningham said. She left messages on Oct. 13 about the incident for several school district officials.

“It’s my belief that parents were not notified by the district,” Cunningham said. “I feel they have a right to know to make a decision whether to let their children ride the bus or find alternative transportation.”

Standard operating procedures for the district’s transportation department don’t allow bus drivers to use their cellphone at any time except to call 911 in an emergency, said Andrea Conley, district spokeswoman. District officials received messages from Cunningham and immediately began an investigation that lasted about a week, she added. The photograph taken with the student’s camera phone was part of the probe.

“As a result of the investigation, we took swift and appropriate action, the maximum allowable action for this particular situation,” Conley said.

The bus driver, who has worked 21 years for the district, was placed on administrative leave through the investigation and returned to work on Monday. The district isn’t sharing disciplinary actions that were taken against the employee, Conley said. No notices about the incident were sent home to parents because the district believes it was an isolated incident that was dealt with immediately, she added.

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; adaybert@heraldnet.com.

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