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Jackson schools suspend AD charged with DWI, marijuana
The Jackson School District placed athletic director Kevin P. Bohnert on administrative leave Monday afternoon after he was charged earlier in the day with driving while intoxicated and marijuana posession, district superintendent Dr. Ron Anderson said.
The decision came after consultation with the district's attorney, Steve Wright, and after a talk with Bohnert, Anderson said. "We just started working with our attorney with administrative leave. As more information will come forward, we will make an adjustment."
Bohnert will continue to receive his salary while on leave, Anderson said. In the deliberations that led up to the decision, both the DWI and the drug posession charges were considered, he said. Neither charge was a stronger reason for the decision to impose the suspension, he said.
"It was probably just the whole scenario," he said. "It has taken us most of the day to do that."
Bohnert, 49, of 213 W. Park St. in Jackson has been athletic director for the district since August 1994. He was a teacher for the Jackson schools and a teacher and coach for the Cape Girardeau School District prior to taking the administrative job.
Bohnert was charged Monday with driving while intoxicated, marijuana possession, posession of paraphernalia and failure to drive on the right half of the road based on an early Friday morning traffic stop.
Bohnert was not at home Monday when a reporter attempted to contact him. He was not at work at Jackson High School.
Bohnert was arrested by Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper Douglas McDaniel at about 2 a.m. Friday on U.S. 61 just north of Route Y near Jackson. In a sworn statement filed with the charges, McDaniel said he was saw a 2002 Lincoln automobile swerving on the highway.
McDaniel reported smelling a strong odor of intoxicating beverage from Bohnert, who admitted drinking "two or three earlier tonight at the Ted Nugent concert." A search of the car turned up a gold marijuana pipe with un-burnt marijuana in the center console, McDaniel wrote.
Associate Circuit Judge Gary Kamp issued a summons for Bohnert to appear in court June 25 for arraignment on the charges, filed by assistant Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Brett Nelson.
The charges against Bohnert cite him with misdemeanors for driving while intoxicated, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and the infraction of failure to drive on the right half the roadway.
At the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department, Bohnert recorded a blood-alcohol level of .110 percent on a breathalyzer. Under Missouri law, a .08 percent blood alcohol content is considered intoxicated.
Prior to the suspension, attorney Wright said his standard recommendation he makes to disticts in similar situations is to wait on disciplinary action until the court case is settled unless there is a potential danger to students or school property, Wright said. "We may not have a resolution of the criminal complaints against this employee for many months," he said. "If they put him on suspension with pay, he might be on a six-months paid vacation."
Wright also said the district may find it difficult to make a suspension stand.
"There are no cases in Missouri that possession of a controlled substance by a teacher off school property and not in connection with the school is grounds for termination," Wright said. "There is no precedent for that."
The only case in which courts have held that conduct outside of school responsibilities were grounds for dismissal of a teacher was when the teacher had actually shot someone, Wright said.
Missouri law bars convicted felons from working as teachers. None of the charges against Bohnert are felonies.
"It is a tough situation," Wright said. "There is no good solution."
But Wright, when he made those statements, was unaware that Bohnert had admitted smoking marijuana.
"That is a very troubling fact that we are going to continue to have to consider very carefully," he said.
The marijuana was found in the car when McDaniel searched it following Bohnert's arrest. A woman in the car with Bohnert when he was stopped denied that the pipe or marijuana were hers.
As he was being booked, deputy Sunni Meyers asked Bohnert about blanks on the booking questionaire, McDaniel wrote in his sworn statement. When Meyers asked "did you smoke pot tonight?" Bohnert answered "yes."
Bohnert also asked McDaniel "could we just forget about the marijuana and pipe", McDaniel wrote.
For updates, check back at www.semissourian.com or read Tuesday's Southeast Missourian.