Teachers Charges Dropped After Being Drunk In School

Today, we have a rather shocking story about a 57-year-old second-grade teacher, Wendy Munson, who was arrested for allegedly teaching while intoxicated but will not face charges due to insufficient evidence. Let’s break down what happened and the implications of this unusual case.

Back on October 2, 2023, Sutter County sheriff’s deputies were alerted to an intoxicated staff member at Nuestro Elementary School in Live Oak, north of Sacramento, California. When deputies arrived, they found Munson in her classroom, slurring her speech and showing clear signs of inebriation. She was taken into custody on suspicion of driving under the influence and child endangerment.

Despite her arrest and subsequent tests revealing her blood alcohol level was a staggering 0.20% and 0.19%—well above the 0.08% legal limit for drivers in California—prosecutors ultimately decided not to press charges. The Sutter County District Attorney’s office explained that while Munson’s behavior was highly inappropriate, it did not meet the legal requirements for criminal charges.

“The mere potential that a situation could arise is insufficient to meet the requirements under the law. While teaching under the influence is highly inappropriate, it is, unfortunately, not illegal,” stated the DA’s office.

Video evidence showed Munson driving to school and failing a sobriety test afterward. However, it did not conclusively prove she was impaired while driving. “She doesn’t get out of the car and tumble or anything, so that didn’t help us,” noted District Attorney Jennifer Dupré.

The investigation included interviews with Munson’s current and former students but could not establish whether she was drunk while driving to work or if she began drinking at the school. Prosecutors also could not meet the legal criteria for a child endangerment charge, as there was no specific information indicating that the children were placed in immediate danger.

This case highlights a significant gap in the law regarding intoxication and professional responsibilities. As DA Dupré stated, “We tried because I don’t like the conduct. It’s not acceptable, but it’s unfortunately not criminal.”

Parents, understandably, are upset. “I thought it was crazy. I think she should’ve called out of work,” said Kaitlynn Conley, a parent at the school. “I know people have fun weekends, but that was definitely not OK as an educator.”

Following the incident, Munson is no longer listed as a current teacher on the district’s website, making this now a personnel matter for the school and district to handle internally.

In a similar but even more troubling case, Kimberly Coates, a former Payne County teacher, was arrested for being intoxicated while teaching and was recently arrested again for being drunk in court. Coates was initially confronted in her classroom in August, where a breathalyzer test showed a blood alcohol level of 0.24%. Despite this, Coates claimed she had only one drink.

Three months later, she arrived at the courthouse for a hearing in a similar state of intoxication, using the railing and wall to steady herself and slurring her words. Coates was again arrested, this time on a complaint of public intoxication.

Through these cases, we can obviously see the need for schools and legal systems to find better ways to protect students and ensure a safe and conducive learning environment.