Filing a lawsuit earlier this month, former Chinook Middle School physical education teacher Erik Schock claims the Bellevue School District was wrong to fire him after a February incident when Schock was found to be drunk at work.
Schock was removed from the school and ultimately fired after an assistant principal there noticed he stunk of alcohol. The firing was upheld following an administrative review by a retired judge; Schock has since sued in King County Superior Court, claiming the district had no cause to fire him.
Detailing the allegations in an August report, hearing officer Terry Lukens found Schock, an 11-year school employee, was indeed drunk at work. His blood alcohol level was estimated at .15, nearly twice the .08 threshold set for drivers.
Describing the Feb. 11 incident, Lukens said Schock, having arrived at school at 7:30 a.m., was discovered to be drunk at noon. The administrator who encountered Schock reported his breath smelled of alcohol, his eyes were bloodshot and his speech was slow.
Schock was then called into a meeting with a school district attorney, who also saw he was evidently drunk, Lukens said in his ruling.
Schock initially claimed he drank three glasses of beer the night before with dinner, then admitted he'd had nine, according to the report. A blood alcohol test administered at 2 p.m. showed his alcohol level to be .05; a toxicologist later opined Schock's blood alcohol level would have been three times that when he arrived at work 4 1/2 hours earlier.
According to the hearing officer's ruling, Schock did not dispute that he was working with students while legally drunk. Instead, Schock argued he should not be fired for doing so because his was not "flagrant misconduct" as defined by state law.
Lukens noted that, beyond putting his students' physical safety at risk, Schock was obviously a poor role model.
"It is highly likely that students observed his high level of intoxication, slurred speech and watery eyes," Lukens said in the ruling.
"Mr. Schock contends that this incident was a wake-up call for him, but there was no evidence of any medical diagnosis or treatment history to support a conclusion that his first apparent attempt at sobriety will be successful," the retired judge continued. "The students in the district should not have to run the risk that he will have one or more repetitions of the same behavior."
Following the Aug. 26 decision, attorneys for Schock filed an appeal to Superior Court claiming state law and the evidence collected against Schock don't support his firing.
Schock attorney Tyler Firkins described the lawsuit as a "statutory appeal." The Seattle attorney declined to comment further on the matter.
The district has not yet responded to the lawsuit.