OPI superintendent: 'no contest' to charge of passing a school bus stop-arm

Elsie Arntzen pleaded no contest to a charge of passing a school bus with its stop-arm extended.
Posted at 11:36 AM, Jun 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-02 13:18:07-04

HELENA — On Wednesday, Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen pleaded no contest to a charge of passing a school bus that had its stop-arm extended.

A plea of no contest means the defendant accepts the judge's ruling and sentence, but does not admit guilt to the charges.

Helena Judge Anne Peterson fined Arntzen $500, with $400 of that amount suspended. Arntzen will pay $135, including surcharges.

The Helena Police Department cited Arntzen last week after an investigation into a May 19 incident where a bus driver from the East Helena School District contacted authorities about a red Chevrolet truck reportedly passing the stopped bus while students were getting into the bus.

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 she did not remember the incident.

Arntzen told MTN last week that she does live in that area, does have a red truck, and has driven past that bus stop while students have been there, but she did not recollect this specific incident. She said school bus safety is an extremely important issue, and that everyone needs to take it seriously.

Peterson also gave Arntzen a 60-day deferred sentence, citing Arntzen's previously clean driving record.

If Arntnzen does not have any other violations during that time, this citation will be removed from her record.