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updated: 8/13/2013 3:57 PM

Teacher accused of drinking on job gets $18,000 to resign

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Associated Press

JANESVILLE, Wis. -- The Janesville school district is paying a teacher suspected of being drunk at a field trip more than $18,000 to resign as part of a separation agreement.

If the district tried to fire 50-year-old teacher Maria Caya, the legal costs would have exceeded the $18,452 payment, School Board President Greg Ardrey told The Janesville Gazette.

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The fourth-grade instructor was taken to a hospital June 6 after police said she passed out during an end-of-school trip to a bowling alley. Her blood registered 0.27 percent alcohol at about noon.

If the district had lost, Caya could have been reinstated. That would have put the parents of the children entrusted to Caya's care in a difficult position, Ardrey said.

The lump-sum payment was based on Caya's unused sick days accumulated during her 14 years with the district, he said. Teachers can accumulate up to 10 unused sick days each year.

If Caya had worked 20 years in the district and reached age 55, she could have traded sick days for district health insurance that would carry her through to Medicare age, said Dave Parr, who as president of the teachers union was involved in negotiating the agreement.

"I think it was a good outcome for Maria and her family. She made this decision, and we supported her with it," Parr said. "I think it was a good outcome for the district. Under the circumstances, as long as both parties agreed, this was the best that could be done."

Caya also will receive her district group health and dental coverage through Aug. 31, according to the agreement. Steve Sperry, personnel director for the district, said that is standard for anyone who resigned during the 2012-13 school year.

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