Montana schools chief fined $100 in school bus passing case

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FILE - Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen speaks at a rally opposing mask requirements in schools in front of the state capitol in Helena, Mont., on Oct. 1, 2021. Arntzen was cited on Thursday, May 26, 2022, for illegally passing a school bus in a residential subdivision the previous week. While Arntzen said she did not recall the incident, she thanked the school bus driver who reported the incident for his vigilance. (AP Photo/Iris Samuels, File) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana's top schools official was fined $100 after she pleaded no contest to a citation alleging she illegally passed a stopped school bus while children were boarding.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen on Wednesday entered the plea meaning that she did not not admit guilt but was not contesting the charge, according to Helena Municipal Court records.

Arntzen was cited last week for illegally passing the bus in a residential subdivision on the morning of May 19.

She said she does not recall the incident, but the East Helena Public Schools bus driver recognized her and wrote down the license plate of the pickup truck that passed the bus, according to police reports. The school district also gave Helena police two photos from the school bus video camera showing the incident.

Helena Municipal Court Judge Anne Peterson suspended $400 of the $500 fine and ordered that Arntzen could have the citation removed from her driving record if she has no traffic violations over the next two months, court documents said.

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