MOUNT PROSPECT, ILL. A school bus driver for Mt. Prospect Elementary School Dist. 57 has been suspended without pay and will be recommended for termination at the next board of education meeting on Thursday, Mar. 18 for allegedly driving a bus while under the influence of alcohol.
On Tuesday, Mar. 9, at 3:45 p.m., Mt. Prospect Police Sgt. Michael Eterno received a telephone call from Dist. 57 Transportation Coordinator Vincente Ramirez. Police said Ramirez stated one of the district's school bus drivers, 54-year-old Betty A. Burden of Mt. Prospect, was operating Dist. 57 school bus 11.
Burden was transporting approximately 50 children under the age of 18 from Lions Park Elementary School in Mt. Prospect to various bus stops within the village, according to police.
Ramirez said a coworker of Burden's reported to him that she had smelled alcohol on Burden's breath at around 2:30 p.m., police said.
Eterno and another officer arrived and checked the projected route of bus 11. Eterno located the bus traveling northbound on River Road, just north of Euclid Avenue and performed an investigatory traffic stop. Burden was on her way to drop off the bus at a nearby bus station, police said.
Eterno spoke to Burden, who police say was operating the now empty bus. Mt. Prospect police said Eterno immediately smelled the odor of an alcoholic beverage on Burden's breath. Eterno also made additional observations concerning Burden's physical state that were consistent with alcohol impairment, according to police.
According to police, Burden admitted to having consumed an alcoholic beverage during the course of the day and consented to performing a variety of standard field sobriety tests.
Police said Burden failed all field sobriety tests administered to her and was placed under arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Burden was transported to the Mt. Prospect Police Dept. where she consented to a breath alcohol test, which registered her blood alcohol concentration at 0.226, police said. The legal limit in Illinois is .08.
The Cook County State's Attorney's Office approved a felony charge of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol for being under the influence while transporting passengers under the age of 18.
According to Dist. 57 Supt. Dr. Elaine Aumiller, Burden was employed with the district from 1991-99, and returned to employment in the district in August 2008.
Aumiller said Burden has a clean disciplinary history and has passed each of the random drug tests the district requires of all bus drivers.
"However it is clear to us that our trust has been betrayed and we offer our deepest apologies to the families affected by the incident," Aumiller said in a written statement. "We are outraged that our students were subjected to this misconduct, and we are grateful that no one was injured as a result."
Burden's bond was set at $10,000. She is expected to appear back in a Rolling Meadows courtroom on Thursday, Apr. 1 at 10:30 a.m.