Boston school superintendent halts van use at school after learning of weekend drunken driving arrest

Boston School Superintendent Carol R. Johnson is implementing new policies regarding school vans after learning that two teacher aides at one school drove students in school-leased vans without the proper licenses and that one of them had been arrested for driving one of the vans under the influence of alcohol on a weekend.

BOSTON ,MA 09 / 12/ 2012: Boston Public Schools Supt Carol R Johnson speaking at press conference. The Boston Teachers Union and the School Department reached a tentative agreement early this morning on a new contract after 27 months of contentious negotiations, according to several people with direct knowledge of the agreement. The two sides will officially announce the agreement at 11:30 a.m. at a press conference at Boston City Hall. The new agreement is expected to bring sweeping changes to the way the School Department evaluates the performance of its roughly 5,000 teachers by relying on the use of student test scores. Teachers with an overall rating of unsatisfactory will be unable to receive a pay raise and could face a more speedy termination than in previous years. The city?s approximately 125 schools also will have greater flexibility to hire teachers transferring from another school. ( David L Ryan / Globe Staff Photo ) SECTION: METRO TOPIC 13teachers
Superintendent Carol R. Johnson (David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)
The Boston Globe

School Department officials said that only one school operates the vans, which were used occasionally to respond to students’ “unique transportation needs.” The use of the three vans at the school, which has not been named, will be discontinued. The city school transportation department will take over the job of carrying the students and will use buses, said school department spokesman Matthew Wilder.

One of the aides took a van without permission over a November weekend and was arrested early that Sunday morning for driving under the influence of alcohol, the statement said.

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Johnson only learned of the van issues Thursday, the department said.

“I'm outraged that these employees would violate the trust we have in them, and we will take all appropriate steps to ensure they are disciplined to the fullest extent,” Johnson said in the statement. “Fortunately, no students were harmed in any way, but these allegations are serious and require a thorough investigation.”

Wilder, the school spokesman, said that the principal of the school learned about the drunk driving arrest in early December and then informed the labor relations department, a divison of the schools’ human resources department that deals with employees protected by union contracts. The information did not go anywhere from there. Johnson learned about it when contacted by a media outlet Thursday, he said.

“It’s not acceptable for her not to have been told and she’s made that very clear,” he said. “She wants answers right now.”