Last Modified: Wednesday, January 09, 2013 2:28 PM
Calcasieu Parish school system officials on Tuesday said they plan to re-evaluate their hiring policy after a substitute school bus driver was arrested on drunken-driving charges Monday.
The driver, Matthew Oliver Richard, was certified to operate a bus Dec. 10 even though results of his criminal background check hadn’t come in, said Andy Ardoin, the system’s transportation director.
School Board policy, based on state law, allows for the temporary hiring of applicants “pending the results of the (criminal history) inquiry.”
Richard, 26, was stopped by state police on La. 27 in Sulphur on Monday. He had reportedly just finished dropping off DeQuincy students at school.
He was charged with driving while intoxicated, with child endangerment; going 75 mph in a 55 mph zone; improper lane use; having an open container; and theft under $500.
Authorities said Richard’s blood alcohol level was 2 1/2 times the legal limit and that he had with him on the bus an open bottle of Southern Comfort that he had stolen.
He remains in the Calcasieu Correctional Center on $12,000 bond.
No children were on board the bus, and no injuries were reported.
School system officials said applicants can wait to submit information for a background check until they’ve passed the driver training course and tests. This means they can begin driving students while the school system awaits the results.
“That’s something we’re going to look at doing, to see if we need to change that,” said Assistant Superintendent Gary Anderson.
“There are a number of things that would delay it. Sometimes fingerprints are smudged so they send them back to us. It takes three or four weeks. That’s the way it is with any employee that works with us right now.”
Ardoin said Richard had a good driving record and had passed all the other requirements — including possessing a commercial driver’s license; undergoing 44 hours of class training and 60 hours of training on a bus; and passing federal drug and alcohol screenings.
Officials have recommended to the School Board that Richard be fired. Superintendent Wayne Savoy said the board will look at its policies to see if changes need to be made.