Police: No charges in teacher incident

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Frank Schultz
Saturday, June 15, 2013

— A police investigation into a teacher accused of being drunk on a field trip on the last day of school concluded the teacher should face no criminal charges.

Detective Kyle Austin interviewed staff members and parents who were at the bowling alley. His investigation focused on the students’ welfare. He concluded they were never neglected or in danger.

Police released reports Friday. School district officials have said they would conduct their own investigation after police had concluded theirs.

According to the police report: Buses carrying staff members and about 120 fourth- and fifth-graders arrived at River’s Edge Bowl at about 9 a.m. June 6, witnesses said.

Teacher Maria L. Caya and eight other staff members were with the children, and some students’ parents arrived, as well, according to interviews Austin conducted this week.

Adults recalled noticing Caya acting oddly between 9:30 and 10:45 a.m. Some at the alley thought they smelled intoxicants on Caya’s breath. Others did not. Some said the 50-year-old appeared “out of it.” Some thought she might have been suffering a stroke.

No one saw Caya drink alcohol at the bowling alley, which doesn’t serve alcohol during school events. Those interviewed agreed the children were well supervised.

A maintenance worker said he saw Caya try to order a beer, only to be told the alley does not serve during such functions. He described Caya as looking grumpy after that. A staff member said Caya doesn’t drink beer.

The maintenance worker said he heard Caya yell, “I’ll be fine,” at someone during black-light bowling time, which includes strobe lights, and wondered if the lights affected her.

Caya’s husband was called, and he took her from the bowling alley around 10:45 a.m., a witness said. Washington Elementary School Principal Scott Garner also arrived late in the morning and accompanied the Cayas from the building.

Caya was treated at the emergency department at Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center, when her blood registered 0.27 percent alcohol at about noon that day.

One staff member suspected Caya of being drunk at school on a previous occasion but didn’t act on the suspicion.

Some witnesses said news reports that Caya had passed out or vomited at the alley were incorrect. That information came from a hospital social worker who heard it from the doctor and/or nurse who attended to Caya, a police report states.

The social worker told police Caya said she drank a bloody Mary at 6 that morning and also was taking Ativan, which is used to treat anxiety and which would amplify the effects of alcohol.

Austin tried to contact Caya. Caya’s husband, who is an attorney, told the detective she would not be making a statement.

Last updated: 7:52 am Monday, July 29, 2013

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