Elementary School Teacher Caught Teaching While Drunk

classroomElementary school teacher Karon Thomas-Larkin, 47, has been suspended from teaching because she was drunk. The 47-year-old taught at the Cwmffrwdoer Primary School in Pontypool, South Wales. Thomas-Larkin teaches 5- and 6-year-olds and her problems with alcohol have been going on for years.

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I can't help but feel for this teacher -- alcoholism is a disease and one she is clearly struggling with. Thirteen parents had come forward to complain that they had smelled alcohol on the teacher's breath. Thomas-Larkin's co-workers also said that they smelled alcohol when in her presence.

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The teacher had been sent home from work three times in the month of October alone for reeking of alcohol. It gets worse. The school seemed to want to work with her -- they didn't fire her and instead gave her several chances to get help. But it was clear she had big problem. Rhiannon Dale of the General Teaching Council was part of the discussion regarding Thomas-Larkin and she said that the teacher was clearly intoxicated while on school grounds:

She had difficulty walking and standing and was seen staggering across the road.  She tried to sit down on a bench and fell backwards and tried several times to stand up and fell before she got into the car taking her home.

Thank goodness she had a ride home and didn't try to drive herself. Thomas-Larkin knows she has a problem. The sad reality behind this story is that she was a celebrated teacher -- children and parents loved her, as did the headteacher at the school who called her a "highly efficient teacher." But she was diagnosed with Legionnaire's Disease, which caused her to be hospitalized. Once she recovered and returned to work, things weren't the same, and she began abusing alcohol. She has been suspended from work for a year in the hopes she can get the help she needs to recover.

I wish her success, and hope when she is ready to return, students, parents, and her co-workers welcome her back with open arms.

Do you think this teacher deserves a second chance?

 

Image via Liz/Flickr

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