Hiring policies reviewed after teacher is accused of being drunk at school

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by Tanya Mendis

Bio | Email | Follow: @tanyamendis

azfamily.com

Posted on August 15, 2014 at 6:57 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 19 at 12:18 PM

Map: Poston Butte High School

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FLORENCE, Ariz. -- The Florence Unified School Board President says their hiring policies and practices are under review, after evidence came out that a teacher who was accused of getting drunk at school was fired after similar accusations in another district.

Teacher Kathleen Jardine, 57, was cited for drinking in public, after her students at Poston Butte High School reported her to the school resource officer Wednesday.

Investigators with the Pinal County Sheriff's Office say Jardine was slurring her words and swearing at the students. When they searched her bag, deputies say they uncovered a mini-bottle of wine, a half-empty bottle of vodka and a bottle of Sunny D.

Fewer than 24 hours before that incident, Gilbert police officers received a call about a person driving erratically in a school zone outside of Perry High School. The driver, identified as Jardine, was arrested for super extreme DUI. Officers say she blew a .257 on a portable breath test, which is more than three times the legal limit.

That arrest happened at 3:40 in the afternoon. Jardine supposedly told police she was heading home from work. Her school day at Poston Butte High 13 miles away ended at 2:20, only a little more than an hour before her arrest.

Sheriff Paul Babeu says it "takes a lot of work" to reach such an extreme blood alcohol content, leading Florence Unified School District authorities to now investigate the timing of her drinking to determine whether she was intoxicated in the classroom on that day as well.

During the course of the investigation, deputies discovered Jardine was fired from a high school in Belen, N.M. after allegations she came to class drunk in 2011.

Jardine also has a DUI on her record from 2004.

School district officials say they do an extensive background check that includes a five-year criminal history, references checks, and verification of teaching certification. They do not perform an internet search as part of their background check.

Jardine's termination from the school in New Mexico made headlines in that state and was easily discovered during a simple Google search.

While questions swirl about how Jardine was able to get a job in the district, James Thomas, president of the school board says they are investigating. "Our practices and policies are under review because of this incident," Thomas says. "Although no system is foolproof, we aim to tighten ours to the extent possible."

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