General chatter - Question for Teachers and others very familiar with public school policies

12-01-2011, 05:07 PM
My mom works as a public school substitute teacher. My dad and I got called to pick her up today because the school said she was under the influence. Mom claims a misunderstanding. Dad believes her, I don’t. For people knowledgeable of school policy, is her story even plausible?

This morning my Dad woke me up at 8:30 am. He said my mom called and needed us to come pick her up at the school. We believed she became ill at work. I walked in the school doors a complete mess. A man wearing a suit met me at the door and explained that my mother was under the influence. This caught me completely off guard. He said she spilt coffee, had alcohol on her breath and acted intoxicated. Also that she wouldn’t be allowed to sub in the district in the future and the school wasn’t pressing charges.

The man and I walked into the main office. I got handed her car key and left with my mother. As we walked out she explained that this situation was ridiculous and she passed the breathalyzer. She could have said “under the legal limit” or “passed” regardless I remember getting the impression they found something above zero and less than 0.08 from her wording. Also I thought I smelled alcohol on her breath. Once at home she told my dad her breathalyzer score was zero. Whatever she told me in the school hallway it definitely was not that she blew a zero (but “passed” could equal “zero”).

She really has been a little sick the past few days and really does use amaretto coffee creamer. She’s claiming they smelled the non-alcoholic amaretto coffee creamer she used on her breath and the remnants of her flu made her unsteady. She claims the whole thing was a big misunderstanding. My dad believes her. I don’t think her story passes the “smell test.” I would think the school needs hard evidence of intoxication to call a teachers family and ban them from working in the future. Amaretto coffee breath, flu related unsteadiness and a 0 breathalyzer score should not result in termination. The legal reasons alone make her story not plausible.

From a strictly school policy standpoint is her “misunderstanding” excuse possible. Also resources showing her story does not check out (documents, websites etc) would be appreciated. I have no idea where to find the school alcohol policy stuff.


12-01-2011, 05:14 PM
Sounds to me like if she really hadn't been drinking, she would have pushed for a blood test or something to prove she wasn't guilty so she could work for the district in the future. Perhaps the school offered to let her go without charges if she agreed that she wouldn't work there anymore. Sorry you have to deal with that :(

12-01-2011, 05:30 PM
I'm not a public school teacher but I've worked in policing.

Here's the thing - the "legal limit" ie. 0.08 means anyone with 0.08 or above is automatically impaired no matter how they behave, under *criminal* law when facing an impaired charge. You can be 0.02 and still be legally impaired when charged for impaired driving, it's just harder to prove.

People who are impaired by substances such as oxycotin will register as 0.00 and yet can be profoundly impaired when operating a motor vehicle.

However, your mother's employer is not required to prove her as impaired under criminal driving laws! If they believe she is impaired, they can fire her. There is no criminal burden here. As an employer, they are subject to completely different regulations and the whole "0.08" thing has no meaning whatsoever to her circumstance.

She can consult an employment lawyer but until then, they have the legal authority to fire her for perceived impairment. All employers have the right to fire an employee and have them removed from the premises if they suspect impairment.

12-01-2011, 05:56 PM
Thanks for the replies

My mother tends to overdue it with alcohol (gets drunk at family gatherings, routinely makes herself a strong cocktail in middle of day etc). I was surprised but not shocked by this. Her history leads me to believe she was guilty. I'm pretty sure with her it would be just alcohol not oxytocin or anything thing else. Therefore if she was impaired it would have shown up in a BAC test.

My mother is very combative and doesn't let anything go. I believe she would have really fought for a blood test if she was innocent. I understand that she's liable for a 0.02. I personally believe she blew something under 0.08 but not 0. There's a bottle of kahlua in the house and she probably put a little in her first cup of coffee this morning.

I'm just wondering if it's possible to blow a 0 and still get sent home/fired (like she's claiming)?

12-01-2011, 06:12 PM
^Yes, because the school has the right to fire an employee if they suspect they are under the influence of alcohol. The BAC or anything like that has no bearing and an employer does not need to prove anything to her. It is within their right - if had a kalhua in her coffee before work and her demeanor suggested she had been using alcohol prior to her shift then they have every legal right to fire her, whether or not she blew a 0.00 or a 0.1.

Besides, a BAC has a very particular calibration and requires constant certification/updating by the user to be in any way completely accurate - a handheld device by someone at a school would not hold any weight in any criminal case. For all you know, she could really be at 0.05 and the device read 2x that or nothing at all.

BAC and the suggestion of an impaired level is relevant to police criminal cases and has no bearing on an employment law case. Two completely different areas of law/regulations.

12-01-2011, 06:13 PM
this is my understanding from nearly 9 years working for a public school district....although policies probably vary from district to district...she is a my understanding, substitutes are under no contract to work for the district...they call substitutes when/as needed, substitutes can decline to work that day if they are called as well...they are not under any legal contract to the district....from what i've seen, if a school doesnt like a particular sub or he's not good with the kids, they don't "fire" him or anything, they just dont call him to sub anymore...if she is an actual teacher employed by the district, she most likely has union representation and other recourses to fight back against the district but you said substitute, so that's what i'm going off of

12-01-2011, 07:52 PM
My father who works for the Ministry of Education for BC will agree with the above posters who say that they can let her go regardless of what she blew. If any teacher or substitute or worker in a school is suspected of being under the influence, they're job can be legally terminated right away and sent home. Considering that she was a substitute and she didnt work their permanently, she is lucky, because it means that she can work at other schools, however, she will of course, not be getting a referal from her previous school that she subbed. As far as the pressing charges matter goes, i dont really think they have grounds to do so.

Regardless of what your mom did or didnt do..she needs to be careful of perceptions. If she drinks the night before heavily, and goes to school even with the slightest hangover, thats grounds for her to get her job terminated, regardless of the fact that her social drinking was out of school on a weekend and it was her own business. She might want to lighten up on putting any kind of alcohol or alcohol flavoured syrups into her drink until a time when she is off work in the afternoon.

12-01-2011, 07:59 PM
Thanks a lot guys. I guess this isn't as cut and dry as I thought. Your responses really helped me.