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Matthew Oliver Richard<br>

Matthew Oliver Richard

School board discussing bus policies following driver's arrest

Last Modified: Wednesday, January 09, 2013 7:07 PM

By Nichole Osinski / American Press

Calcasieu school officials may meet as early as Friday to discuss the arrest this week of a substitute bus driver on drunken-driving charges.

Matthew Oliver Richard, 26, was stopped in his bus Monday morning on La. 27 six miles south of DeQuincy, shortly after dropping off schoolchildren assigned to his bus.

State police said he was driving erratically at 75 mph in a 55 mph zone; after he was pulled over, an open bottle of Southern Comfort was found on the bus. State police said Richard was tested at a level of alcohol intoxication of 0.211, 2.5 times the legal limit in Louisiana.

“We were lucky that he was able to unload those children before he created a real problem, such as wrecking the bus,” R.L. Webb, Calcasieu School Board president, said Wednesday. “We’ll do everything we can so that this won’t happen again. Our responsibility is to the children and their safety.”

Richard had been certified as a bus driver Dec. 10, before the results of a criminal background check had been returned to the school system. However, the school board’s policy, which is based on state law, permits such hires pending the results of that report.

Webb said he plans to discuss the incident with Superintendent Wayne Savoy on Friday, part of a discussion he said will include the system’s policies on bus drivers and the hiring of employees.

Webb said the decision has already been made to dismiss Richard, but he said he would like for potential employees to have their background checks completed earlier before letting them into the school system.

Savoy said in a prepared statement Wednesday a review of system policies is imminent.

Andy Ardoin, the school system’s director of transportation, said that on Monday morning Richard had left from his home with the bus and therefore no one from the bus barn was able to see Richard before he started the route.

State police Sgt. James Anderson said based on what officers saw at the arrest scene, it was unlikely that Richard started drinking only after dropping off the 49 students who were on the bus.

That was why state police charged him with child endangerment as well as driving while intoxicated. He was also charged with driving 75 mph in a 55 mph zone, improper lane use, having an open container and theft under $500. Authorities believe the liquor was stolen.

Richard was being held in the Calcasieu Sheriff’s Prison on a bond of $12,000.

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