There are plenty of news reports about people operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, but it’s not every day that police have to arrest a person for “teaching while intoxicated.” Officers in Sanford, Florida, brought a substitute teacher into custody after she was allegedly trying to run a second grade class at Seminole County Public Schools while drunk.
According to WFLA, the substitute teacher, 52-year-old Holly Joel, arrived in the classroom on Tuesday morning and was intoxicated enough for a school employee to notice. The staffer contacted the police and informed them that a substitute teacher currently on duty was either under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs.
According to the authorities, the behavior of the substitute teacher quickly went from a little suspicious to downright embarrassing. The principal of Bentley Elementary School, Martha Garcia, came to confront Holly Joel. She simply asked the substitute teacher to stand up. When she tried, Joel fell over and hit a nearby window. At this point, the principal decided it was best to dismiss the students so they wouldn’t witness any more.
Garcia also told police that the substitute teacher’s head was swaying, and she couldn’t keep her eyes open. Holly Joel claimed she was simply tired.
A Seminole County Deputy responded to the call and was informed by the principal that Joel’s “speech was slurred and she smelled of alcohol.” She also reportedly had a plastic water bottle with her full of a pink liquid that smelled like alcohol once it was opened. Prescription pills were found inside her purse.
The officer started to question the substitute teacher to determine her sobriety. When he asked her what day it was, she replied “Monday,” even though it was Tuesday. When he asked who the president of the United States was, Holly Joel replied “Obama.” Then he asked what the president’s first name was, and she again said, “Obama.”
While the drunken actions of the substitute teacher may seem funny, she was arrested and slammed with some pretty serious charges, including disorderly intoxication and child neglect. She was also charged with disturbing the peace for interfering with the administrative functions of Bentley Elementary School, described by police as disturbing “the learning environment necessary for education.”
According to WFTV, Holly Joel does not have a teaching certificate and only worked as a substitute teacher a total of 10 times in the past two years, and she had not worked as a substitute teacher for the district in over a year. Unsurprisingly, the school district announced that Holly Joel will never work as a substitute teacher in Seminole County again.
As for the humiliating incident that took place in the classroom, the principal for the elementary school had to send notes home to the parents of all the second-graders who witnessed it, explaining that their substitute teacher was arrested for intoxication.
However, Principal Garcia made it very clear that despite the substitute teacher’s shocking behavior, “[a]t no time were the students in danger or unsupervised.”
An intern was also in the classroom at the time Holly Joel was teaching while intoxicated, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Upon her arrest, Joel was taken to a hospital and then to John E. Polk Correctional Facility. She will face a judge on Wednesday for this bizarre case of teaching while intoxicated. She had also pled no contest to a DUI charge in Orange County four years ago. She served probation for that charge.
If Holly Joel is found guilty, how do you think someone should be sentenced for working as a substitute teacher while drunk?
[Image via Seminole County Police Department]