School bus driver, 60, fired for drinking on the job says she didn’t know White Claw was alcoholic

A Long Island school bus driver, Amal Hanna, was fired after being caught drinking while transporting students home. She claimed it was an accidental mix-up due to her chemotherapy affecting her ability to taste alcohol.

Hanna, who cherished her job and the children she transported, now faces financial uncertainty and fears homelessness.

Smithtown Central School District and WE Transport Inc. denounced her actions and emphasized their commitment to student safety. This incident follows a recent tragic charter bus accident involving high school band members.
But, authorities won't file charges, citing the small alcohol warning on the can.

Long Island School Bus Driver Says Chemotherapy Affected Her Taste Buds
Last week, a Long Island school bus driver, Amal Hanna, was caught drinking while transporting students home.

After her arrest, Hanna, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy, claimed that she accidentally grabbed an alcoholic White Claw from her fridge, thinking it was a regular fruit-flavored seltzer.

Hanna revealed that her chemotherapy treatment affected her taste buds, and as a result, she cannot taste alcohol.

While speaking to News 12, the 60-year-old expressed remorse for the incident, stating that, "It was just a mistake." She added, "I have been crying and crying, I don't even have any more tears."

However, she has been fired after the incident and now fears homelessness without a job. According to the authorities, no charges will be filed against Hanna as the can's alcohol warning was in small print, and she does not drink.

Parent Described Fired Long Island School Bus Driver As 'So Sweet'
Speaking to the outlet, Hanna, who had been a school bus driver for 15 years before she lost her job, shared that she now faces uncertainty about her financial future during chemotherapy. "I'm frightened I'm going to be on the street because of a mistake," she cried, per New York Post. She revealed that she had found joy in transporting children daily and loved her job. "I love the kids, I love my company," she explained. "I go in the morning, so happy, see the kids, say 'Good morning, how are you,' give them a big smile." She added that it "makes my life happy when I see the kids going to school happy."
A parent who spoke to the outlet also described Hanna as "sweet" and "kind." The parent added, "I can't imagine she would ever do anything to harm them. I think it was a very honest mistake."

School District Emphasizes Its 'Zero Tolerance' Policy For Misconduct
At the time of the incident, Smithtown Central School District Superintendent Mark Secaur revealed that the drinking driver was "promptly taken from the bus, and a different driver completed the route."

A spokesperson also confirmed to NYP that Hanna was subsequently terminated from her employment at WE Transport Inc., the Long Island-based school bus company she worked for.

At the time of her arrest, both the school district and the transportation company condemned her actions, stating, "This alleged conduct is completely unacceptable and the driver has been immediately removed from service," the spokesperson said.

They emphasized that the safety of students is their top priority, adding, "Our student safety is of the utmost importance to the Smithtown Central School District and we will remain steadfast in our efforts to create a safe environment for all our students."

The district maintained that it has a "zero-tolerance policy for such behavior" and assured parents of its commitment to student safety.

Bus Carrying High School Band Members Crashes, Two Dead
Just two weeks before Hanna was arrested for drinking while driving students, a tragic incident occurred when a charter bus, carrying 40 high school band members from a different Long Island school district, overturned in upstate New York.

The horrific accident resulted in the loss of two lives, including a high school band director, and left numerous students critically injured. At the time of the accident, the bus en route to a camp in Greeley, Pa., for Farmingdale High School band members, veered off Interstate 84 near Wawayanda in Orange County.

Governor Kathy Hochul described it as a "day of terror" and suggested that a faulty front tire might have caused the fatal crash. "No one could've foreseen what these 40 students and four adults would've experienced, but certainly there are families grieving today," she added.

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