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Hernando teacher reaches deal to keep her job after showing up drunk

BROOKSVILLE — A Hernando County middle school language arts teacher who was intoxicated while on duty in December has reached a deal that will allow her to keep her job, according to the Hernando County School District.

Erin Cougill, 47, signed an agreement April 30 admitting she was drunk while working at West Hernando Middle School on Dec. 11.

In exchange for the superintendent not seeking termination, Cougill agreed to see an addiction or abuse expert and complete all recommended programs and requirements. She agreed to remain suspended without pay through the 2013-14 school year, according to the agreement.

She must also consent to drug and alcohol testing for the 2014-15 school year; any positive test brings immediate termination.

The agreement, called a "stipulation for employee discipline," goes before the School Board for approval at today's regular School Board meeting. Superintendent Lori Romano has recommended approval of the item.

On Feb. 4, the School Board approved Romano's recommendation that Cougill be suspended without pay and that the case be referred to the Division of Administrative Hearings.

According to the district's investigation, Cougill, a 14-year veteran of the Hernando School District, showed signs of impairment on the morning of Dec. 11, including slurred speech, dilated pupils, unsteadiness and incoherent conversation. That afternoon, around 2:30 p.m., Cougill took a "reasonable suspicion" test, which showed positive results for alcohol "well above the legal limit of 0.08" at which a motorist is presumed impaired in Florida.

A lawyer representing Cougill did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Danny Valentine can be reached at dvalentine@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1432. On Twitter: @HernandoTimes.

Hernando teacher reaches deal to keep her job after showing up drunk 06/09/14 [Last modified: Monday, June 9, 2014 7:34pm]
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