Special Needs Transportation

School Bus Aide in New Jersey Crash Pleads Not Guilty

Nicole Schlosser
Posted on March 2, 2019

NEWARK, N.J. — A school bus aide who is facing charges related to child endangerment, impaired driving, and drug possession after crashing a school bus pleaded not guilty in court on Wednesday.

As SBF previously reported, Lisa Byrd was reportedly transporting 12 special-needs students because school was dismissed early due to snow, and the regular route driver was going to be late. Byrd allegedly crashed the bus into a tree. When first responders arrived on the scene, they found her unconscious, Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said in a press conference. 

Ambrose added that Byrd apparently was under the influence of a narcotic, and first responders administered Narcan. He also said in the press conference that police found drug paraphernalia in the bus. Ahmed Mahgoub, Byrd’s employer, as well as some family members, told news sources that she has diabetes and high blood pressure.

Mahgoub told WPIX a day after the crash that he wasn’t made aware of any evidence that Byrd was using illegal drugs, despite what investigators claim. He added that she had told him about a medical issue related to a diabetic condition, and that she’d mentioned that her diabetes medication wasn’t working, so he suspected that her blood sugar dropped.

Mahgoub also told the news source that Byrd "made her own decision" to drive the bus.

Byrd entered a plea of not guilty in her first court appearance on Wednesday morning, News 12 reports

Public Defender Chris Rojas, who is representing Byrd, argued that she is not a flight risk because she is a lifelong resident of Essex County, has daughters, and has had no serious criminal record, and should not remain in jail until her next court date, which is March 18. The assistant prosecutor argued Byrd had no legitimate school bus driver training and emphasized her alleged drug use, according to News 12.

Byrd said that she had a diabetic episode, which Narcan has been used for in the past, the news source reports.

The judge determined that the alleged drug use made Byrd a threat to the community, so she will be held until her next court appearance, according to News 12. Byrd was given seven days to appeal the decision.

Related Topics: aide/monitor, impaired driving, New Jersey

Nicole Schlosser Executive Editor
Comments ( 0 )
More Stories
Micro Bird has expanded the capacity in its G5 bus with wheelchair lifts from five passengers with wheelchairs to six with wheelchairs and three additional riders.

Micro Bird Expands Capacity in New G5 Bus

The Type A school bus manufacturer's G5 can now accommodate 36 passengers. Those equipped with wheelchair lifts have room for six passengers with wheelchairs and three additional passengers. 

Don Moore, executive director of transportation for Gwinnett County (Ga.) Public Schools (center), presented awards to (from left to right) Regular-Education Bus Manager Gretchen Arnold, Special-Needs Bus Monitor Hannah Robinson, and Special-Needs Bus Manager Julie Peterson.

Special-Needs School Bus Manager, Monitor Honored

Gwinnett County (Ga.) Public Schools presents awards to Special-Needs Bus Manager Julie Peterson and Special-Needs Bus Monitor Hannah Robinson. Also recognized are a general education driver and a fleet technician.

Some school transportation departments have found that children’s rideshare services, such as HopSkipDrive, can offer flexible scheduling and more efficiency when serving students with special needs, and those who are homeless or in foster care.

How Ridesharing Can Meet a Variety of Student Needs

Children’s rideshare services can offer scheduling flexibility, quick response time, and more efficient use of resources when serving homeless, foster care, and special-needs students. Factors to consider are budget and coordination between multiple parties.

Photo courtesy Frederick County (Md.) Public Schools

Getting School Bus Drivers, Aides Involved in the IEP Process

While it may not be ideal for transportation staff to be involved in every step of the Individualized Education Program process, it is essential for them to communicate with parents and related service staff to acquire information that may directly impact a student’s safe travel to and from school.

Be the First to Know

Get the latest news and most popular articles from SBF delivered straight to your inbox. Stay on top of the school bus industry and don't miss a thing!