Arntzen pleads no contest to illegally passing school bus

Montana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen pleaded no contest Wednesday to illegally passing a school bus that was picking up children with its red lights flashing and stop arm down.

Helena Municipal Judge Anne Peterson fined Arntzen $500 for the violation plus $35 in fees and surcharges with $400 suspended, for a total of $135. Arntzen received a deferred sentence, which means the charge will be dismissed if she does not have any other traffic violations within 60 days.

A no-contest plea means the defendant accepts the conviction but does not admit guilt.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Arntzen’s Communications Director Brian O’Leary said the superintendent would like to “thank all bus drivers for their vigilance in keeping our children safe.”

“School bus safety is a very important issue and the Superintendent encourages everyone to be alert and mindful when school buses are picking up and dropping off our children at the bus stop and at school,” the statement says. “This is a good reminder for all of us to slow down from life’s daily distractions, and to pay extra careful attention, especially as we enter the busy summer season. The safety of our children must always come first.”

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