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Poston Butte High teacher has history of alcohol in class

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Kathleen Jardine, 57, is suspected of being drunk while teaching a math class at Poston Butte High School in San Tan Valley. (Source: Pinal County Sheriff's Office) Kathleen Jardine, 57, is suspected of being drunk while teaching a math class at Poston Butte High School in San Tan Valley. (Source: Pinal County Sheriff's Office)
FLORENCE, AZ (CBS5) -

Wednesday's arrest of a teacher at a San Tan Valley High School wasn't the first time she has had issues with alcohol in a classroom.

Kathleen Jardine, 57, was fired on the spot after she was caught impaired during class at Belen High School in New Mexico in 2011, said Ron Marquez, the superintendent of the Belen (NM) Consolidated School District.

Marquez, who was the head of human resources for the district at the time, said Jardine's dismissal in 2011 sounded like the exact situation she faces at Poston Butte High School in San Tan Valley.

Jardine was arrested by Pinal County sheriff's deputies on suspicion of being drunk while teaching a math class Wednesday afternoon.

A student in Jardine's Poston Butte class called the school's main office and said his teacher appeared intoxicated and was yelling at students, the spokesman said.

Administrators removed Jardine from her class and a deputy who spoke with her said he suspected she was extremely intoxicated, the spokesman said.

Marquez said that in 2011, students reported Jardine to be staggering and slurring her speech. An assistant principal came into the classroom and it determined by a school nurse Jardine was impaired.

Marquez said Jardine had brought the alcohol to school in a picnic basket. She was a brand new hire and hadn't completed a year at Belen High School, Marquez said.

One of Jardine's Poston Butte students, Cole McCormick, told CBS 5 News that Jardine had just started teaching at Poston Butte this school year.

"She just seemed slow," McCormick said.

Jardine, of Chandler, initially denied drinking, but later said she drank the night before, in the morning before school and during lunch in her classroom, the spokesman said.

A Poston Butte high school spokesman said teachers are required to pass a rigorous background check before they're hired and Jardine did not have any "red flags" on her record.

"We go off what Arizona law and our school board policy states," the high school spokesman said. "I can guarantee you that if there were red flags in the hiring process at any point, [she] would not be hired by us."

The Arizona Department of Education cleared Jardine for teaching in February of 2013.

Marquez said no superintendent in the New Mexico school district had been contacted by any other district inquiring about Jardine's past employment.

According to Gilbert police, Jardine was arrested for driving under the influence Tuesday night. Jardine did submit to a breathalyzer and blew a 0.256 BAC and told police she was leaving school, a police spokesman said.

Gilbert police told CBS 5 News officers found an open bottle of peppermint schnapps in her car Tuesday night and Jardine was cited for extreme DUI and failure to maintain a lane.

On Wednesday, a school security officer found a half-full 750 ml bottle of vodka, an empty single-serving bottle of wine and a half-empty jug of an orange-colored drink in Jardine's purse, the spokesman said.

Jardine took a breath test and it returned a breath-alcohol concentration of 0.205 percent, the spokesman said.

The spokesman said the deputy said he asked Jardine how she got to school Wednesday, and she reportedly told him, "I was afraid I was too intoxicated to drive so I took a cab this morning."

Jardine was cited for one count of consumption of alcohol in public and was released to her daughter as the investigation continued, the spokesman said.

The school resource deputy interviewed six students from the class, and all confirmed she appeared intoxicated, was yelling at students and using profanity, the spokesman said.

Jardine could also face possible charges of disorderly conduct, the spokesman said.

The Florence Unified School District said Jardine has been put on paid administrative leave and is not allowed to have contact with students.

The school district issued this statement about the incident:

"On August 13, a teacher was reported, by students, exhibiting intoxicated-like symptoms. The fast acting administrative team at Poston Butte High School responded by removing the teacher from the classroom environment immediately. The School Resource Officer was called and it was verified that this individual was intoxicated. This individual was then arrested and removed from campus.

"Due to the pending criminal charges and this being a personnel issue, the Florence Unified School District is not at liberty to give further comment at this time. Please contact the Pinal County Sheriff's Office with any further inquiries about the criminal investigation.

"Please remember, as troubling as this situation is, it was the act of an individual and does not reflect the standards of the Florence Unified School District or the amazing people who work tirelessly for the kids who attend our schools."

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