School bus driver accused of drinking beer while picking up students in Illinois

School bus driver fired after she allegedly drank beer while transporting students in Illinois

AURORA, Ill. (WLS/CNN) - A school bus driver from Illinois faces child endangerment charges after police say she drank beer while picking up more than 30 elementary school students.

Police say 44-year-old Michelle Passley, a school bus driver, bought two cans of beer the morning of Nov. 15 from a Speedway gas station in Aurora, Illinois. Video from the bus appears to show Passley drinking the beer from a brown paper bag while driving as many as 32 elementary school children.

Officers credited the alert gas station clerk for contacting East Aurora School District 131 after selling beer to the driver and allegedly watching her drive off in the bus.

Michelle Passley, 44, is charged with two misdemeanor counts of endangering the life and health of a child.
Michelle Passley, 44, is charged with two misdemeanor counts of endangering the life and health of a child. (Source: Aurora Police Department/WLS/CNN)

"Shoutout to that convenience store clerk who had the wherewithal to contact the district, so that they could intervene," said Aurora Police Chief Kristen Zinman.

No students were injured in the incident, police say; though parents and investigators are appalled.

"It's infuriating to believe that someone who is trusted with these children on a daily basis could potentially put them in this kind of danger," Zinman said.

The school district says it contracts First Student Bus Company for its busing services. After reviewing video, the school bus company fired Passley, and a manager reported the incident to police.

“At First Student, there is nothing more important than the safety of the students we transport. We understand and share in the concern this incident has caused. We are incredibly disappointed by our former driver's actions,” said the company in a statement.

Passley was arrested Monday. She is charged with two misdemeanor counts of endangering the life and health of a child. She has been released on a $100 bond and is due in court again Dec. 27.

Aurora Police arrest and charge school bus driver after she buys beer and drinks it while picking up students

Aurora Police have arrested and charged a school bus driver after she purchased beer at a convenience store and drank it while picking up students during a morning bus route in Aurora. On Friday, November 15th, a manager from First Student Bus Company came to the Aurora Police Department to report an incident involving one of their drivers. The manager told the officer that an observant convenience store clerk called East Aurora School District 131 and told them they just sold beer to a woman and then watched her get onto a school bus and drive away. According to East Aurora School District 131, the district contracts First Student for bussing services and the bus driver is not an employee of the district. School district administrators immediately contacted the bus company to investigate the matter. First Student quickly reviewed video from the school bus which appears to show the driver drinking from two beer cans while picking up elementary students during one of the driver’s morning routes. As soon as the bus company reviewed the video, they contacted the Aurora Police Department and terminated the bus driver. At the same time, District 131 administrators also contacted the Aurora Police Department and the Department of Child and Family Services. Aurora Police detectives opened a criminal investigation into the matter and began collecting evidence, looking at video clips, and interviewing witnesses. Detectives learned the bus driver picked up the school bus around 6:00 a.m. on Friday and completed one route. She then stopped at a gas station in the 900 block of North Farnsworth Avenue and purchased two cans of beer, returned to the bus, and drove off. Detectives reviewed video from the school bus, which shows the driver place the beer can into a brown paper bag and drink from it while driving numerous elementary school children on the bus. In all, 32 students were observed on the bus while the driver was drinking from the two beer cans. 44-year-old Michelle Passley was arrested and charged with two Class A Misdemeanors counts of Endangering the Life/Health of a Child. Aurora Police also contacted the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office to review Passley’s Commercial Driver’s License. Passley was arrested Monday evening and released on $100 bond. She will next appear in the Aurora Branch Court on December 27th, 2019. The Aurora Police Department is grateful for the initial concerned call to the district from the store’s clerk and the quick actions by East Aurora District 131 administrators and the First Student Bus Company for reporting the incident, so an investigation could be initiated.

Posted by Aurora Illinois Police Department on Tuesday, November 26, 2019

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