Elementary teacher accused of being intoxicated in classroom

Holly Joel, 52, was arrested in Florida on multiple charges


SANFORD, Fla. – A substitute teacher at a Florida elementary school was arrested Tuesday on allegations of being intoxicated while she taught children in a classroom.

Holly Joel, 52, was arrested on charges of child neglect without great bodily harm, disorderly intoxication and disturbing the peace and interfering with school administration functions.

According to Seminole County Public Schools, Joel was teaching a second-grade class at Bentley Elementary School in Sanford when another employee alerted the principal that she was behaving oddly.

"Upon entering the classroom and speaking with the substitute, it was determined that she needed to be immediately removed from the classroom," Bentley Elementary School principal Martha Garcia said in a letter sent to parents. "There was a suspicion that the substitute might be ill or under the influence of a prohibited substance."

Officials said Joel was taken to a hospital by law enforcement officers.

Sanford police said Joel was later arrested.

"Throughout the course of the investigation, it was determined that Joel was under the influence of alcohol and had interfered with the learning environment necessary for education," Sanford police said.

"At no time were the students in danger or unsupervised," Garcia said in the letter.

Joel, who has been a substitute with the county since 2014, has been permanently removed from her role with the district, school officials said. She is also ineligible for future employment with the district, according to officials.

School officials said Joel worked 10 assignments, eight of which were at Bentley Elementary, this school year and didn't work any last year. Officials said Monday was the first time she had ever taught that second-grade class at Bentley.

Joel was booked into the Seminole County Jail and but later was released after posting bond.

Joel was arrested in 2012 on DUI charges, according to court records. News 6 asked school district leaders how she was able to get a job with that charge on her record and they said that, according to school board policy, a misdemeanor DUI does not qualify as an offense for employment. 

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