CHELMSFORD (CBS) – A school bus driver has been placed on administrative leave after Chelmsford Police arrested him on charges that he was high on marijuana as he prepared to drive a bus full of students on a field trip.
Ali Mahfuz, a driver for North Reading Transportation, dropped students off at Greater Lowell Technical High School in Tyngsboro and had just over an hour before he was scheduled to drive Chelmsford High School students on a field trip to Boston.
A North Reading Transportation spokesman said Mahfuz can be seen on video pulling over to the side of the road in between his duties. While he is not seen smoking marijuana, the company said Mahfuz is seen sleeping.
When Mahfuz arrived at Chelmsford High School, staff and students smelled marijuana on the bus and called police.
Mahfuz admitted to smoking marijuana during the time between assignments, the bus company said.
Students were taken off the bus and brought to the cafeteria.
Police arrested Mahfuz and charged him with operating under the influence of drugs, operating negligently to endanger, and reckless endangerment.
“I cannot overstate the role played by the students today in ensuring their safety on the roads,” Chelmsford Police Chief James Spinney said. “They knew something was not right, and they spoke up right away, alerting school administrators. I commend these students for their role in stopping a dangerous situation from unfolding.”
Following his appearance in Lowell District Court, Mahfuz said “I’ve got nothing to say” but later added as he got into a car that “no kids were on the bus.”
Mahfuz was released on personal recognizance.