Driver fined for carrying handgun on school bus
Published Tuesday, February 8, 2011 1:22PM CST
A driver charged with carrying a handgun aboard a school bus in Rorketon, northeast of Dauphin, in January has been fined $700.
Students noticed the handgun on the bus on the way to Rorketon School and notified staff there on Jan. 6. Police were then contacted and a man arrested.
The accused was a spare driver who had been filling in with the school division for several years.
Parents who had children on the bus told CTV News they were concerned by the incident.
Fred Taylor, reeve for the RM of Lawrence, questions how school bus drivers are hired in Manitoba.
"I think there should be a tighter screening program," said Taylor.
The province requires that school bus drivers have a Class Two license and must take a 24-hour training program. Each school division sets its own policies after that.
CTV News contacted four Manitoba divisions, including Winnipeg, Brandon, Southwest Horizon and Frontier, which includes Rorketon School. All four divisions said criminal record and child abuse registry checks are now mandatory.
Officials with the Frontier division said those checks were not done on the driver involved in the gun incident because he was grandfathered in when two school divisions amalgamated years ago. The driver also did not have a criminal record, until the recent gun incident.
Officials said the incident is troubling, but call it an isolated one.
"This was a huge lapse of judgment. There didn't appear to be any malicious intent to harm anybody in the incident, but nonetheless, there (are) consequences for actions," said Ray Derksen from the Frontier School Division.
The accused was convicted on Feb. 2 in Dauphin, after pleading guilty.
Ernie Smadella, 52, was fined $700 for unauthorized possession of a restricted weapon in a motor vehicle and careless storage of a firearm.
Smadella would not comment when reached by CTV News.
Frontier officials said he is no longer a driver with the division.
- with a report from CTV's Josh Crabb