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Bus driver resigns over drunk students

UPI News Service, 10/08/2010 

Officials in a Florida school district said a bus driver resigned after several sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade girls got drunk on her bus.

Manatee County School District officials said Ava White-Smith, 44, of Bradenton was suspended without pay in May and resigned last month as the result of a Feb. 19 incident involving several girls sharing an alcoholic beverage on the bus while en route to Just For Girls, an alternative education program, the Bradenton Herald reported Friday.

School officials said the girls arrived for the program drunk and one had a half-empty, half-gallon bottle of gin in her bag. However, White-Smith claimed she did not see anything inappropriate on the bus and initially refused to resign.

However, she changed her mind after Tallahassee administrative law Judge William Quattlebaum recommended she be fired. Quattlebaum said footage from cameras installed on the bus clearly show the students "surreptitiously" sharing a drink.

"It is inconceivable that the respondent was unaware of the (Just For Girls) school students' behavior," he wrote in his 12-page termination recommendation. "The denial lacked credibility, particularly since the recordings clearly captured her discussion with (Just For Girls) school students about their consumption of the unknown beverage."

White-Smith said Monday that she still has a "clear conscious."

"Piece of mind is priceless. God knows I didn't know," she said.

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