Education

Sacramento teacher suspected of DUI had prior case

Patricia Robertson is arrested Thursday morning.
Patricia Robertson is arrested Thursday morning. video image

A Sacramento teacher arrested Thursday morning on suspicion of driving under the influence was sentenced nearly four years ago in a separate drunken driving case, court records show.

Patricia Ann Robertson, 56, a third-grade teacher at Earl Warren Elementary School in south Sacramento, was arrested Thursday after her vehicle crashed into two houses in Vineyard at about 8:30 a.m.

She reportedly was on her way to the school.

The crash occurred about two blocks from her home, and California Highway Patrol spokesman Officer Michael Bradley said a preliminary test showed her blood-alcohol level to be more than three times the legal limit.

Robertson could not be reached Friday for comment. She was released from Sacramento County jail Thursday and is on paid administrative leave from Sacramento City Unified School District.

In January 2010, Robertson pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more, according to court records. She received an informal three-year probation and was assigned to the sheriff’s work project. A separate misdemeanor count of driving under the influence was dismissed.

In that episode, Robertson was placed on involuntary, paid administrative leave from her job at Golden Empire Elementary School in Rosemont from Sept. 27, 2010, to June 30, 2011. District spokesman Gabe Ross said he could not disclose the reason for that disciplinary action because it is a personnel issue. He said paid leave is standard procedure when the district wants to quickly remove a person from a classroom.

On Thursday night, Earl Warren Elementary’s principal sent a recorded telephone message to parents advising that an unidentified campus employee had been placed on administrative leave after being involved in an alcohol-related car accident.

The message cited the well-being and safety of students as a top priority and said the district was working with law enforcement to ensure appropriate action, Ross said.

Some parents arriving at Earl Warren Elementary on Friday afternoon to pick up their children said they were unaware of the teacher’s arrest one day earlier.

“I’m in shock,” said Carla Guttierez, whose 9-year-old son is in fourth grade. “It’s a good school. So I am surprised.”

Erika Lepe, who has four children in the school, said her son, Eric, was in Robertson’s third-grade class last year.

She said she met Robertson in a parent-teacher conference, “but I didn’t see anything wrong.” But, she added, “Who likes to get drunk this early in the morning?”

While the school district has authority over a teacher’s employment, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing has authority over teaching credentials.

Commission spokeswoman Erin Sullivan said she could not address specific cases. But she said when a teacher is charged with any crime, the California Department of Justice notifies the commission, which last year processed more than 2,400 misconduct cases involving alcohol.

Some cases can be handled at the commission staff level. But others may be submitted to a peer-review panel – the Committee of Credentials – which, in turn, may recommend that the commission consider suspending or revoking a credential.

Call The Bee’s Loretta Kalb, (916) 321-1073. Follow her on Twitter @LorettaSacBee.

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