SOURCE: Bus driver accused of smoking during route refused drug test, fired amid investigation
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A bus driver is out of a job, one week after being accused of driving recklessly, speeding, and smoking marijuana during a route to Shenandoah Elementary School. While the school system put out a statement earlier this week saying their investigation determined there was no evidence to support the claims, officials did say the driver was no longer employed. Those same officials later changed course— in a separate statement— saying that because of new information, they were passing the matter on to law enforcement.
Crystal Ellis’s daughter was on the bus at the time and while the school system was quick to investigate, Ellis says she’s frustrated with how the case developed.
“It is damaging to public trust and I think that going forward it will be handled differently. I think everyone has been put on alert that it needs to be,” said Ellis. “It was pretty insulting to discredit our concerns. We also of course question how you can say there’s no proof or validity to the allegations yet the person is no longer employed by the school system.”
It’s unclear if the bus driver was actually smoking. Officials with the school system say they didn’t find any evidence to support that but when asked specifically if they drug-tested the driver, they chose not to answer. A source close to the investigation tells the WAFB I-TEAM that the school system tried to drug test the driver but the driver refused. That’s when she was fired.
“I understand why they can’t release all information but it’s absolutely frustrating as a parent because all you want to know is that there was follow-up to your concerns,” said Ellis.
WAFB has also learned the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office is now investigating the case but officials with the school system did not hand the case over to law enforcement until around 3 p.m. Thursday, February 16, 2023, after the WAFB I-TEAM started asking questions about the case and a week after the issue was first brought to their attention.
Ellis says she is worried about whether the sheriff’s deputies will be able to find anything substantial based on how late they were alerted to the case.
“I am concerned that they won’t be able to find all of the evidence that had been available to them early on in this investigation,” said Ellis.
Ellis says her biggest fear is that the driver may be allowed to do the same thing somewhere else.
“If this driver goes and gets hired elsewhere and next week duplicates the same behavior and let’s say the result of that is harm to any of the students, we understand how we got here.. at least I do,” Ellis added.
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