Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando teacher who got second chance after showing up drunk resigns

Middle school teacher Erin Cougill didn’t meet terms of the agreement that let her keep her job.

Middle school teacher Erin Cougill didn’t meet terms of the agreement that let her keep her job.

BROOKSVILLE — A Hernando County middle school teacher who was given a second chance to work in the district after showing up to work drunk has resigned after failing to meet the terms of an agreement.

Erin Cougill, a language arts teacher at West Hernando Middle School, didn't meet the terms of the stipulation agreement by Aug. 1, according to district spokesman Eric Williams.

The agreement stated that Cougill needed to be evaluated by an addiction or abuse expert and had to complete any programs or requirements recommended by the expert. She also agreed to random drug or alcohol tests for the 2014-15 school year and acknowledged that the district could take further action against her after the findings of the state's Education Practices Commission.

On Dec. 11, Cougill was drunk on duty, school officials said. She showed signs of impairment, including slurred speech, stumbling and incoherent conversation. There were reports of erratic behavior and having an inappropriate conversation with a student.

School administrators ordered a "reasonable suspicion" test that showed Cougill's blood-alcohol level was well above 0.08 percent, the point at which a motorist is presumed impaired in Florida.

After a district investigation, superintendent Lori Romano recommended that Cougill be terminated.

Cougill, 48, quickly appealed the decision. Before the investigation was finished, she said she attended two Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and did some serious soul searching.

Faced with the possibility of losing a legal battle and in spite of lingering concerns, the Hernando School Board approved an agreement in June allowing Cougill to keep her job.

Board attorney Dennis Alfonso said that, historically, administrative judges have looked favorably on employees who have made a good-faith effort to address their problems. In cases involving some mitigating factors, the judge will often find there isn't "just cause" and rule against the district, he said.

"(The Division of Administrative Hearings) is not always as affected by a violation of policy," he said. "They're a bit more forgiving than a board is. On a whole, they're more in favor of giving an employee a second chance than the board would be."

Alfonso told board members it wasn't a question of whether the board had the authority to punish the teacher, but rather "whether it would be a prudent investment of time and money" to do so.

Hernando teacher who got second chance after showing up drunk resigns 08/15/14 [Last modified: Friday, August 15, 2014 7:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays beat Orioles, but tough stretch looms that could change their plans (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tuesday was a step back in the right direction for the Rays, who halted a season-high five-game losing streak by hanging on — and we mean that pretty much literally — for a 5-4 win over the Orioles.

    The Rays’ Tim Beckham celebrates with Mallex Smith after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.
  2. Diaz, Taddeo win easily in special Miami Senate primaries

    Blogs

    Two Miami state Senate candidates who raised and spent the most in their respective primaries — Republican Rep. Jose Felix Diaz and Democratic businesswoman Annette Taddeo — notched easy victories in a special election Tuesday night.

    Republican candidate Jose Felix Diaz is surrounded by supporters after he won the primary for Florida’s Senate District 40 race. Democrat Annette Taddeo, right, celebrates her victory with supporter Venus Lovely at BJ’s Restaurant in The Falls.
  3. In live debate, Kriseman and Baker ask St. Pete: Is the city better off?

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Mayoral candidates Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker made their best pitch to voters in front of a live television audience on Tuesday night. The candidates essentially asked this: Is the city better off now than it was four years ago?

    Incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker debate in front of a live television audience during the City of St. Petersburg Mayoral Debate at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg on Tuesday evening. The event was sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  4. Romano: It all comes down to sewage in this mayoral race

    Local Government

    Well, poop.

    Nothing else really matters, does it?

    Schools, economic development, public safety? Pfft. The Rays stadium, affordable housing, the pier? Ack. When it comes to the St. Petersburg mayoral election, sewage is the yin, the yang and the yuck.

    At Tuesday’s debate, incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman said responsibility lies on him regarding the sewage crisis.
  5. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.