12/05/2013 08:27 EST | Updated 02/04/2014 05:59 EST

Revulsion over school bus operator's drunk-driving charge

Impaired driving charges laid Wednesday against a school bus driver in St. John's have outraged school officials and family of the students in his care. 

An anonymous tip led the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary to pull over the driver, 71, on Old Bay Bulls Road. Four students were on the bus, which was ultimately bound for Bishops College on Pennywell Road central St. John's, at the time of his arrest. 

"I was disgusted," said Darrin Pike, the chief executive officer of the English School District. 

"You think about a bus driver and the responsibilities ... and they have tremendous responsibilities driving a bus every day. The onus on a bus driver is that much higher." 

The driver was suspended while the case heads to the courts. 

City Wide Bus Service, which holds the contract for that route, sent a replacement driver to finish the job. 

Jim Lush, whose granddaughter attends Bishops College, wants to know if there had been prior suspicions about the driver, and how he was supervised. 

"A bus driver with any alcohol whatsoever is disgusting," Lush said. 

"Did he have the alcohol before he entered the bus? If so, where was his supervisors? They must keep some sort of control on the drivers."

School district investigates

Tanya Facey, whose son uses the same bus route every day, said she was shocked to learn of the arrest. 

"Anything could have happened," she said. 

"As an adult we have to teach our children ... They look up to us and we're role models to them, and to do that is really unacceptable."

The English School District is investigating the case. 

The bus driver, a resident of Mount Pearl, is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 1. 

School officials have dealt with the problem before. In May 2007, a driver who took children to a school in Burin pleaded guilty to driving while under the influence of alcohol, even though he insisted he was not drunk at the time. 

Meanwhile, Pike said anyone with the slightest suspicion that a school bus driver has been drinking should report the incident to authorities immediately.