The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 19, 2014

Floridian teachers can be plastered

OKEECHOBEE, Fla., Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Florida teacher Catherine Jones was suspended without pay but never arrested or criminally charged for allegedly being so drunk in her classroom at Yearling Middle School in Okeechobee County that she could barely stand up.

Apparently that’s because what Jones allegedly did was technically legal in Florida.

CBS 12 reported that the State Attorney's Office in Okeechobee said that it is not a criminal offense for a public school teacher to be drunk on the job.

Assistant State Attorney Ashley Albright told CBS 12 that a “teacher could be charged with child neglect or disorderly intoxication if that teacher is drunk and hurts someone or damages property.”

Jones was never given a breathalyzer or sobriety test.

"All of South Florida thinks Okeechobee is a joke, amen we are," said parent Felicia Maxwell. "She can go to work and drink while my child is sitting in her class, and they don't arrest her for public intoxication it amazes me.”

According to a Sheriff's Office report, deputies consulted with Albright about what to do with regard to Jones. “The Sheriff's Office did everything legally they could,” Albright said.

Albright refuted allegations that there was a cover-up. "Absolutely not that I know of, had there been evidence of a statute that was violated I know the deputies involved would have arrested her and I would have absolutely prosecuted her," Albright said.