State says substitute had 0.192 BAC at high school
by Gregory R. Norfleet · News · November 09, 2017

A substitute teacher lost her license for two years after a state board ruled against her for showing up for class while intoxicated.

Kiaya Rickard-Urban, 60, of Tipton, had subbed from time to time for West Branch Community Schools since receiving her license in 2012. However, West Branch High School students reported to the principal’s office on Oct. 7, 2016, that she “was not acting right and smelled of alcohol,” according to IBEE records.

That led to her arrest and, on Oct. 9, 2017, the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners issued a final ruling to suspend Rickard-Urban’s teaching license for a minimum of two years.

She argued that she had been out with friends celebrating Coe College’s homecoming the night before and, at school, using an alcohol-based mouth wash to fend off a sore throat. Rickard-Urban had been substituting for an English class that day.

“The whole thing is kind of sad,” Superintendent Kevin Hatfield said, noting that he thinks Rickard-Urban only held substitute teaching jobs for the district.

A message left at Rickard-Urban’s home was not returned as of press time.

The superintendent said he was glad the students reported their suspicions and appreciated how Principal Shannon Bucknell handled the situation.

According to IBEE documents, after the students reported to the principal’s office, Bucknell brought her to his office at about 12:55 p.m., and said he could smell alcohol and noted that her face appeared flushed.

“(Rickard-Urban) acknowledged drinking alcohol the night before until the early morning hours, but denied drinking while at the school,” read the documents.

In a Sept. 11 proposed decision, the IBEE reported that West Branch Police Chief Mike Horihan responded to the school about 1:30 p.m. and administered a preliminary breath test, which measured her blood alcohol content at 0.192. The legal limit for driving is 0.08.

At 1:55 p.m., Horihan took Rickard-Urban to the police department for a more-accurate Datamaster test, and at 2:25 p.m. the result was 0.161. At this point, Rickard-Urban was arrested.

She offered a guilty plea on Dec. 15 to public intoxication - first offense, and received one year of unsupervised probation, more than $300 in fines and fees and all but one day suspended from a 30-day jail sentence. Her one day jail sentence was served Dec. 29.

A week after her arrest, in accordance with state law, Rickard-Urban was reported to the IBEE.

Rickard-Urban stated that on Oct. 6, 2016, the night before subbing at WBHS, she and sorority sisters went out to celebrate Coe College’s homecoming and had four glasses of wine with her dinner and, upon returning to her hotel room, a glass of champagne, read the IEBB documents, written by Administrative Law Judge Emily Kimes-Schwiesow.

“She went to bed around midnight and left at 7 a.m. … to get to work at (WBHS),” read the documents. “She had a large container of mouth wash in her car and poured it into an empty juice bottle to use during the day. (She) reports she repeatedly put the mouth wash in her mouth every 10 minutes all morning. She stepped into the hallway to spit it out in the water fountain.”

She “felt a sore throat coming on,” and Rickard-Urban said the alcohol in the mouth wash helps numb her throat.

Department of Criminal Investigations criminalist James Bleskacek testified that any alcohol in Rickard-Urban’s mouth would dissipate after about 15 minutes.

Rickard-Urban stated she did not understand the test results and denied consuming other alcohol that day.

“She wants to maintain her substitute license and continue working,” read the documents.

Rickard-Urban had 30 days to appeal the Oct. 9 decision. She may request reinstatement at the end of the suspension.

Even without the violation, Rickard-Urban’s license expired June 30, 2017.

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