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Former teacher appealing termination for being drunk at school
A former Chinook Middle School teacher terminated from his position in April for being drunk at work is appealing the decision by a hearing officer that upheld the Bellevue School District's action.
Erik Schock was a physical education teacher at the middle school for 11 years prior to Feb. 11, when he came to work highly intoxicated, according to a findings of fact included in the final decision by hearing officer Terry Lukens. Schock's strong odor of alcohol, bloodshot eyes and slurred speech caught the attention of Andrea Pfeifer, assistant principal at CMS, who reported the P.E. teacher to human resources.
Schock stated he'd only consumed three beers the night before, but his blood alcohol level tested at .053 and .046 when he submitted to two rounds of alcohol testing around 2 p.m. Feb. 11. A clinical toxicologist determined Schock's BAL was .14 to .15 when he arrived to school around 7:30 a.m. that day. He was sent home and placed on administrative leave the next day for violating district policy.
During a meeting with school district representatives on March 5, Schock retracted his previous statement, admitting to drinking nine beers on the night of Feb. 10. He received a probable cause letter justifying his termination on April 3.
Lukens determined on Aug. 27 that the school district's termination of Schock was appropriate based on his being intoxicated while performing his job, which put impressionable middle-schoolers at a higher risk of injury because of his role as a physical education teacher and lunch supervisor.
"It is highly likely that students observed his high level of intoxication, slurred speech and watery eyes," Lukens wrote in his decision. "The potential adverse impact is significant, particularly considering that Mr. Schock was responsible for children engaged in physical education with a much higher potential for injury if not properly supervised."
Lukens also took Schock's dishonesty about his alcohol consumption when making his decision. He also stated a lack of medical evidence diagnosing the former teacher as having a substance abuse problem or showing he sought treatment led him to conclude Schock's attempt at sobriety would likely not be successful.
Schock, who argued he is an alcoholic and that his conduct was not "flagrant misconduct" that would provide sufficient cause for his termination, filed an appeal of Lukens's decision on Sept. 20. He also claimed the district should have offered counseling for his alcoholism rather than firing him.
A tentative trial date has been set for April 21. The Bellevue School District does not comment on pending litigation, said Sara Schwartz, district communications manager. Schock's attorney, Tyler Firkins, could not be reached for comment.