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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 proper licenses and that one of them had been arrested for driving one of the vans under the influence of ­alcohol on a weekend.

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.

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The Transportation Department of the Boston public schools will take over the job of carrying the students and will use buses, School Department spokesman Matthew Wilder said Friday.

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. 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.”

The Boston Herald first ­reported on the van drivers’ problems Friday.

Wilder, the school spokesman, said the principal of the school learned about the drunken driving arrest in early ­December and informed the ­Labor Relations Department, a division 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 reporter Thursday, Wilder said. “It’s not acceptable for her not to have been told, and she’s made that very clear. She wants answers right now.”

Martin Finucane can be reached at mfinucane@
globe.com.
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