HELENA — On Wednesday, Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen pleaded no contest for allegedly passing a school bus with its stop arm extended.
Helena Municipal Court Judge Anne Peterson fined Arntzen $500, with $400 suspended. She will pay $135 including surcharges.
The Helena Police Department cited Arntzen last week (https://www.ktvh.com/news/helena-police-cite-state-superintendent-arntzen-after-bus-stop-arm-investigation), after an investigation into a May 19 incident in the Mountain View Meadows area. A bus driver from the East Helena School District contacted authorities about a red Chevrolet truck that he said passed the stopped bus while students were loading onto the vehicle.
HPD said the driver provided the truck’s license plate and identified the driver as Arntzen. The school district also provided video from a camera on the bus.
Arntzen told the judge, as she has said previously, that she did not recall this incident.
“We all need to be mindful, as I have no memory of this, and that’s why I did a no contest to this,” she said. “But we need to be mindful, especially when our buses are picking up our precious children. Our parents and our children deserve that. I also want to say thank you to the bus driver for being so diligent.”
A plea of no contest means the defendant accepts the judge's ruling and sentence but does not admit guilt to the charges.
Peterson gave Arntzen a 60-day deferred sentence, citing Arntzen's previously clean driving record. If Arntzen does not have any other violations over that time, this citation will be dismissed from her record.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to include a statement from Arntzen.