JANESVILLE

Janesville School District officials say they are not allowed to reveal if a teacher charged with fourth-offense intoxicated driving faced consequences for his earlier convictions.

Dennis H. Brunner, 50, of 3316 Afton Road, Janesville, also is charged with threatening a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest.

Brunner is on paid leave from his teaching job pending the outcome of court proceedings, and his state teaching license appears to be in jeopardy.

He has worked with the Janesville School District since 1995 and is a physical education teacher at Madison Elementary School, said Patrick Gasper, school district communications specialist.

State Department of Public Instruction online records show Brunner has a “lifetime license” to teach and is qualified to teach physical education and coach athletics from prekindergarten to 12th grade.

The charges stem from an incident Saturday when Janesville police responded to a report of a man down. Police found Brunner in his driveway, passed out at the wheel of his car with the engine still running, according to a criminal complaint filed in Rock County Court.

Brunner later ignored police instructions to stay in his car and became aggressive toward officers. When they told him he was being placed under arrest, he refused to put his hands in the air and was “physically resistant,” according to the complaint.

While on the way to the Rock County Sheriff’s Office, Brunner complained about the charges and said the officer should “hope he doesn’t see him on the street.” When asked what he meant by that, Brunner said, “I know a lot of biker guys,” and “there was going to be a bounty put out” on the officer’s head.

Brunner refused field sobriety tests, but his preliminary breath test revealed an alcohol level of 0.235, almost three times the legal limit, according to the complaint.

Brunner’s earlier convictions include:

  • May 19, 2015, in Columbia County on a charge of second-offense intoxicated driving and reckless driving. He was sentenced to two years probation, 28 days in the Rock County Jail with work-release privileges and 15-month driver’s license revocation.
  • June 10, 2015, in Rock County on a charge of third-offense intoxicated driving. He was sentenced to 60 days in the Rock County Jail with work-release privileges to be served concurrently with the jail sentence ordered in the Columbia County case, fined $2,252 and 33-month driver’s license revocation.
  • Aug. 7, 2015, in Rock County on a misdemeanor charge of obstructing an officer. He was fined $705.

In an email response to Gazette questions, Gasper said Brunner was put on leave Tuesday “pending an investigation of allegations and charges filed of criminal activity.”

The school district declined to say if Brunner had ever been placed on leave before or if his prior convictions affected his employment status.

“Personnel files/matters which the SDJ cannot discuss,” Gasper wrote in an email.

The Janesville School District’s policy on criminal behavior states that employees “shall serve as a positive example to students in terms of honesty, integrity and mature behavior.”

The same policy states an employee convicted of a crime will have “his/her criminal action reviewed to determine whether or not it substantially relates to the circumstances of his/her particular job or licensed activity in the district.”

If it is determined that an employee’s crime “is substantially related to the circumstances of the job or licensed activity, the employee is subject to dismissal or other disciplinary action.”

State statutes indicate the state superintendent of schools can revoke a teaching license without a hearing if the person holding the license is convicted of a class H felony under Chapter 940, crimes against life and security.

Brunner has been charged with threat to law enforcement officer, which is a class H felony under Wisconsin Statute 940.203(2).

Brunner is free after posting a $450 cash bond. He is scheduled to be back in court Wednesday, March 20.

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