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School Driver Fired

Action Follows Citation For Drinking on Job

Hartford — A school bus driver who was cited last month for allegedly drinking on the job was fired “on the spot,” according to the company that employed him.

Kent Quillia, 59, of Hartford, has been issued a citation by the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles for negligent operation while driving the bus on Sept. 20.

The incident came to light when Butler’s Bus Service was alerted by a caller that one of its buses was being driven erratically while traveling between Hartford and Bethel, said Carla Benson, a manager in the company’s Hartford office. A subsequent investigation determined that Quillia had been drinking and the bus had hit a traffic sign, according to the DMV.

Quillia had driven students that day from the Hartford Autism Regional Program, known as HARP, to Bethel, Benson said, and then picked up the South Royalton High School soccer team and drove them to Randolph.

But once the bus company was notified by the caller, it dispatched another driver to the scene to relieve Quillia of duty. The replacement driver finished driving the soccer team home, Benson said.

Quillia was driven back to Butler’s Bus offices, where he was administered a blood alcohol test. When he was determined to have an elevated blood alcohol level, company officials contacted police and the DMV.

“The driver was off the road very quickly,” Benson said in an interview Friday. “We responded immediately.”

Benson said the company requires mandatory testing whenever there is a suspicion of alcohol involving an employee. The testing is part of the company’s zero tolerance policy in regard to alcohol, she said.

Benson noted that Butler’s Bus conducts background checks on all drivers, in addition to pre-employment drug screenings as conditions of employment. There are also quarterly tests for drugs and alcohol.

The Hartford School District hires its own bus drivers and does not use Butler’s Bus Service, Superintendent Tom DeBalsi said. However, other school districts pay tuition to send their students to the HARP program, and those students are transported by their own school district, which might contract with Butler’s Bus Service.

Quillia did not return a call for comment on Friday. He is cited to appear in Windsor Superior Court on Nov. 5. Under Vermont law, a judge will decide if there is probable cause, and if so, Quillia will be formally charged with the allegations contained in the citation.

Sarah Brubeck can be reached at sbrubeck@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.