California DA Drops Charges Against Tipsy Teacher: ‘Not Illegal’ to Teach While Drunk

Rachel Acenas
By Rachel Acenas
June 13, 2024California
California DA Drops Charges Against Tipsy Teacher: ‘Not Illegal’ to Teach While Drunk
Nuestro Elementary School in Live Oak, Calif, in May 2023. (Google Maps/The Screenshot via NTD)

A California teacher will not face charges after teaching while drunk, the district attorney announced Wednesday.

The charges against Wendy Munson, 57, have been dropped, according to the county prosecutor’s office.

She was arrested in October 2023 after a staff member at Nuestro Elementary School in northern California suspected that she was tipsy as she taught her second-grade class.

“While the District Attorney’s Office agrees that it is highly inappropriate to teach while intoxicated, it is, unfortunately, not illegal,” prosecutors said in a statement.

Deputies with the Sutter County Sheriff’s Office showed up to Ms. Munson’s class, where she exhibited signs of intoxication, including slurred speech, authorities said.

The teacher also failed a sobriety test. Two hours after deputies first made contact with Ms. Muson, her blood alcohol level was found to be nearly twice the legal limit for driving.

The teacher was taken into custody on suspicion of driving under the influence and child endangerment.

But following a “lengthy and thorough investigation,” the county prosecutor’s office concluded this week that it could not prove the teacher was intoxicated on her way to school that morning.

Furthermore, even though surveillance footage captured the teacher allegedly driving inebriated, prosecutors said it would still be difficult to prove that she was under the influence.

“During the investigation, it could not be established that Munson was under the influence when she drove to the school, as opposed to drinking only after arriving there,” the Sutter County District Attorney’s office said in a statement.

Additionally, the requirements for child endangerment could not be met because there was no specific information that her condition posed a definite threat to students at the school.

The district attorney’s office also noted that “the mere potential” that a situation could happen is insufficient to meet the requirements under the law.

Following Ms. Munson’s arrest, a substitute teacher filled in for her second-grade class.

Parents Informed

Nuestro Elementary School District superintendent Baljinder Dhillon informed parents in a letter that Ms. Munson was escorted out of the school without incident and that the students did not witness her arrest.

“While we are limited in what we can share, as this is both a personnel matter and a matter being investigated by law enforcement, we can let you know that your 2nd graders will have a long-term substitute,” the letter read.

“Our students’ safety and well-being remain our highest priority. We appreciate our staff for promptly reporting concerns to administration and appreciate the Sheriff’s Department for responding quickly with minimal disruption.”

NTD News reached out to the district superintendent regarding the incident and the teacher’s employment status but a response was not received by publish time.

It remains unclear what disciplinary actions Ms. Munson faces, although county prosecutors said its position on criminal charges “does not impact” the decisions made by the superintendent or school district regarding the teacher’s employment status.