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FCS bus driver faces arrest, termination

Franklin County Schools bus driver Rhonda Barksdale was arrested the morning of Sept. 16.

According to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, witnesses reported Barksdale was driving erratically with a bus full of students.

Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver reported the bus was going to Tharptown schools. Oliver said she was released on bond later that day but is facing charges of driving under the influence as well as 40 counts of reckless endangerment.

Oliver reported deputies received calls from multiple other drivers, with one caller reporting the bus almost hit them head on. Another driver reportedly managed to get the bus to stop until deputies arrived.

Oliver said although Barksdale was checked out by emergency medical services and received medical clearance, she failed a field sobriety test. She was arrested and taken to Russellville Hospital, where officials took a blood sample from Barksdale for analysis and testing at the Alabama Department of Forensic Science.

Oliver reported the investigation is ongoing.

Sept. 23 the Franklin County Board of Education called an emergency meeting to be held Sept. 26. At the meeting, the board went into executive session.

Once back in regular session, Franklin County Schools Superintendent Greg Hamilton made a recommendation for Barksdale’s termination as a bus driver for Tharptown schools, and the board approved this recommendation.

“The education and safety of Franklin County students is paramount. I am very thankful that no one was injured as a result of the bus incident,” Hamilton said in a statement. “The action of a concerned parent to help get the bus stopped cannot be praised enough.

“Due to the ongoing criminal investigation, I will not have any additional comments on personnel matters other than my recommendation to the board of education at today’s meeting.”

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