DWI charge against bus driver prompts review of transportation policies

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A drunk driving charge against a school bus driver is prompting a review of transportation policies in the Somers Central School District.

William Mendez, 61, was arrested after having been found with a blood alcohol content of close to three times the legal limit while transporting children from Somers Intermediate School on Dec. 9. Mendez pleaded not guilty when he was arraigned in court Monday on a charge of aggravated DWI.

It's a felony under New York's Leandra's Law. Mendez is in an alcohol treatment program and his license has been suspended.

As a result, Somers school officials say the district's transportation director has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of an investigation.

MORE: Somers school bus driver appears in court on DWI charges

A Board of Education meeting will review the findings from a consulting firm that looked at the district's transportation policies and procedures.

News 12 obtained a copy of the 10-page report written by the Altaris Consulting Group.One of its biggest recommendations is mandating school officials call police any time they suspect a bus driver was driving erratically for any reason.

It also recommends keeping school bus driver on the scene until they're cleared by emergency responders and notifying parents and guardians of an incident promptly.

Consultants are also recommending the district consider GPS and perhaps active surveillance cameras on school buses. For the bus companies, the report encourages more periodic drug and alcohol testing for drivers, and possibly mobile breathalyzers be installed.

District officials say they are forming a transportation safety task force that will include about 10 to 12 community members to examine the recommendations. They say county police are investigating an allegation of inappropriate contact with students by Mendez.

 

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