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Lafayette man with OWI arrest may return as school bus driver

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Tina Marie Macias

The man whose drunken-driving arrest spurred the Lafayette Parish School Board to amend its drug and alcohol policy last year could be back in the driver’s seat of a school bus by January.

Kenny Mire, 51, a tenured bus driver hired in 2002, will return as a contract bus driver pending the approval of the School Board tonight.

He has been on leave with pay since October 2009, said Lawrence Lilly, deputy superintendent of human resources and operations. Mire’s annual salary is $17,912.

His paid leave followed a three-day suspension in the wake of the uproar over his September 2009 arrest. It was the third time he had been arrested off duty for operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

The first two OWIs came in 1993 and 2004. He was not convicted of either. The 2004 arrest was dismissed when a state trooper failed to show up for court.

The final arrest came late Sept. 9, 2009. Mire was arrested for speeding and OWI. He was released early the following morning and was driving his school bus route a few hours later.

Attorney Barry Sallinger represented Mire during the 2004 and 2009 arrests and moved to have evidence from Mire’s Breathalyzer tests suppressed.

According to court documents, the machine malfunctioned the first two times Mire was being tested.

The arresting state trooper said he only waited four minutes, not the required 15 minutes, before the third test. The court held that the 0.174 blood alcohol content reading was invalid.

Evidence of Mire’s blood-alcohol content was thrown out. The charges were dismissed in November.

The legal blood alcohol content limit is 0.08.

“If we didn’t have the rules and regulations regulating scientific evidence and adherence to the law, where would we be? In order for there to be proof, there must be strict compliance,” Sallinger said.

Although Mire’s offense occurred before the new LPSS policy was created, he was evaluated by a substance-abuse professional and received treatment as the policy now requires, Lilly said.

“You’re innocent until proven guilty,” Lilly said. “We were waiting until the courts had decided, and the judge decided.”

The amended policy also requires bus drivers to report arrests for driving under the influence, including those on their own time, before returning to work.

Mire could not be reached for comment Tuesday, nor could parents whose children rode Mire’s bus last year.

School Board Vice President Mike Hefner, however, said he’s heard Mire is a changed man.

“I actually feel like this is one intervention that has actually worked,” Hefner said. “This was his second chance. If he has another problem, then he’s out.”

Mire’s 2004 OWI arrest and several criminal offenses were brought to light in a May 2007 The Daily Advertiser investigation titled “Who’s at the Wheel?”

The Advertiser found that Mire’s police record included several other charges, varying in severity from criminal damage and theft to simple battery.

“This is my personal time,” Mire told The Advertiser in 2007. “I have never done nothing wrong on this bus. It’s an invasion of privacy really is what you call it.”

State law prohibits the school system from hiring people who have been convicted of crimes against children, some drug charges and sexual or violent crimes.

None of Mire’s arrests or convictions fall under those categories.

Advertiser staff writer Claire Taylor contributed to this report.


Written by demon53

December 15, 2010 at 6:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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