A Dodge County school bus driver was fired last week after allowing two students on her route to drive the bus down a dirt road while other students were on board.
Patricia Cuda, a bus driver for nine years, was fired after allowing a 15-year-old and a 13-year-old to drive the bus for about a mile. Cuda was the mother of one of the children who drove, Dodge County sheriff’s spokesman Capt. Tony Winborn said Wednesday.
According to Dodge County school Superintendent Darrel May, an “upset” parent called the school system’s transportation department, and officials, in turn, notified system administrators on Sept. 8 that Cuda allowed two students on her route to drive her bus.
Cuda hasn’t been charged in the incident, but the sheriff’s office is turning over its investigation to the district attorney’s office, Winborn said. Cuda could face misdemeanor charges, he said.
Neither of the students is facing disciplinary action by the school system, officials said.
Cuda told school officials she allowed the teens to drive her bus because they asked her to, May said.
“I have never had to deal with anything like that,” May said. “It totally blew me out of the water.”
There were seven students, ages 10 to 15, on the bus at the time.
Cuda was suspended from her route immediately, and the board voted to fire her the next day, May said.
Winborn said he didn’t know if the 15-year-old had a learner’s permit. Regardless, he said, a commercial license is required to operate a school bus.
Cuda has no prior traffic offenses in Dodge County, Winborn said.
Winborn said the deputy who investigated the incident didn’t witness it, and May said there’s no video system on that particular bus.
“We periodically get video cameras on buses, but several still do not have any,” May said. “Her (bus) did not have video.”
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334. To contact writer Julie Hubbard, call 744-4331.