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I-Team: Driving Teacher’s Behavior Going Too Far?

By Kathy Curran, WBZ-TV
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WORCESTER (CBS) – “Well you could’ve waited until I had my teeth in.”

That was the greeting from Rebecca Sullivan when the I-Team showed up to talk with her about some questionable behavior at her Worcester driving school.

It seems she’s always looking for a laugh.

“I mean man, I don’t do window dressing, sorry,” Sullivan said.

WBZ-TV I-Team’s Kathy Curran reports

She’s the owner of Becky’s Driving School in Worcester, where teens are supposed to learn the rules of the road.

There’s instruction in the classroom and behind the wheel, but some say the learning is lacking and that Becky Sullivan’s behavior in the classroom goes too far.

One student said, “I wouldn’t go there if you want to get a real driver’s education. It’s more sex ed or AA, I guess.”

The student and parent, who don’t want to be identified, say Sullivan talks about her sex life, booze, and drugs, and it’s all laced with plenty of profanity.

The student’s father said, “We were appalled about the open and frank, graphic discussions about drinking, driving, sex, and the cavalier attitude she has toward these things.”

Students say the following is a quote from Becky during class, “Believe me, I was never really educated in sex before I was doing it. Oh I’m supposed to move? I thought I was just supposed to ((expletive)) do what you gotta do.”

It’s a statement Sullivan denies ever making.

Registrar Rachel Kaprielian says driver’s ed is no place to joke around.

She adds, “That is not what the purpose of driver’s ed class is and it’s totally inappropriate.”

The student who spoke with us also said, “She mostly talks about her personal life, how she used to do drugs and how she’ll kill us if we hurt her grandchildren. She talked about how she used to drink a lot, her kids were a mistake, and how she really didn’t want them. Not much about driving.”

It appears many kids coming through this driving school haven’t learned enough to get behind the wheel.

According to the state, the average failure rate for driving schools is about 20-percent.

Becky’s failure rate is much higher in the past six months. In March, almost 52-percent of her students didn’t pass the test.

There’s also concern about a comment she made on seat belts.

“I said I did not agree with the Mass. seat belt law. Because you can marry someone of the same sex, you can kill an unborn child and then they tell you, you have to wear a seat belt. I was trying to bring out the contradiction in that,” Sullivan said.

“You can put this anywhere you want because the people in my class know who I am, know why I do what I do, and you know what, I can’t fill up a class quick enough. Becky wants them alive, Becky cares they drive alive.”  

Saving lives with safe driving skills is the ultimate goal at the Central Mass. Safety Council.

From the classroom to the streets, they say taking the job seriously is key to teaching so teens learn the basic traffic laws skills needed on the road.

Executive Director Tim Cooney said, “We train them to pass the test but we also train them to be safe drivers, we feel it’s vital for youngsters to get good, solid foundation.”

Becky says she offers quality driver’s ed at an affordable price of $550.

The family we spoke with has filed a complaint with the state about Becky’s behavior. A spokesperson for the registry tells us they’re investigating.

Becky Sullivan sent an email to her students once she found out about our story.  And in response, we received several emails.

Many of her students say they enjoyed their experience, they like Becky’s unconventional way of teaching, and it helps them learn what they need to about driving.

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