Two men accused of driving buses full of middle school children to Yellowstone National Park while under the influence of alcohol pleaded not guilty Thursday in federal court.

Jack Kane Parrent Jr., 44, and Kevin Leon Stark, 42, both of Bozeman, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Cole in the national park's courthouse.

The men were transporting Sacajawea Middle School students who were on an overnight trip to Yellowstone and had stayed in Gardiner the night before the incident.

According to charging documents, the men were seen driving erratically in Yellowstone National Park after a late night of drinking in Gardiner, where the drivers and students were staying during the trip.

Rangers following the buses saw Parrent's bus "drift over the centerline three times" in about two miles, court documents state.

According to charging documents, Parrent's blood-alcohol content, tested sometime after 7 a.m., was 0.12, while Stark's was 0.05. Second tests taken about two hours later showed Parrent's blood-alcohol content at 0.091 and Stark's at 0.032.

The legal limit for passenger-vehicle drivers is 0.08 in Montana. For commercial drivers, it is 0.04.

Both men were charged with reckless endangerment and operating a commercial vehicle with a detectable amount of alcohol.

Parrent was also charged with drunken driving and Stark with recklessly creating a risk of public jeopardy.

Court records indicate Parrent had been convicted at least three previous times for drunken driving.

All the charges were misdemeanors.

The two drivers were working for Karst Stage at the time but have since been dismissed. The bus company's owners previously told the Chronicle they are reconsidering their background check procedures.

The judge released both men on their own recognizance. On Thursday, he set Stark's trial for Aug. 8 and Parrent's for Aug. 10.

Jodi Hausen can be reached at jhausen@dailychronicle.com or 582-2630. Read her blog at jhausen.wordpress.com or follow her on Twitter @bozemancrime.

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