Ousted Douglas County School District principal Alan McQueen’s blood alcohol content was .078 percent on Dec. 6, a reading that prompted his firing, district officials said. That reading is just under the legal limit of driving under the influence and within the state-set range for driving while impaired.
Douglas County School District spokeswoman Cinamon Watson released the BAC after weeks of community speculation about the fairness of McQueen’s firing.
She did so “to set the record straight. I think there have been a lot of rumors,” she said.
“He blew a .078 at 10 a.m.; that was two hours after the meeting started. That was clearly a violation of district policy and quite frankly, common sense,” Watson added. “This wasn’t cough medicine. This isn’t ‘I was a little hung over and had a glass of wine the night before.’ He was dismissed for a violation, a very serious violation of our policy.”
Two separate tests conducted about an hour later by an independent company showed readings of .056 percent and .051 percent, Watson said.
McQueen since has been hired as a middle school math teacher at the K-8 charter school Platte River Academy, two miles from Heritage Elementary where he served as principal for more than three years. As a charter school, Platte River is publicly funded and considered part of the school district, but operates and hires staff independent of DCSD.
His new boss said he’s well aware of the BAC reading and other circumstances surrounding McQueen’s dismissal.
“Alan’s done nothing illegal or immoral,” Platte River Academy Principal Gary Stueven said. “I’m certainly not in a position to question what the district’s done. They’ve made a decision that I suspect precludes him being hired in the district; I respect that. But that doesn’t mean I can’t do what I feel is best for my school.
“We all learn our lessons from history. I’ve certainly learned mine. I’m sure Alan has learned his. I want to move forward. What I want in the end is what’s best for my kids.”
McQueen and Buffalo Ridge Elementary Principal Ally Berggren, who resigned Dec. 7, both were given alcohol breath tests during a Dec. 6 administrators’ meeting at The Wildlife Experience in Parker. Both reportedly had been drinking the night before the meeting at separate events.
Watson said colleagues at the meeting alerted DCSD officials to McQueen’s condition. She did not comment on Berggren’s BAC or say why district officials asked her to take the breath test.
Other than to confirm his hiring at Platte River Academy, McQueen did not comment on his dismissal or his new position. Berggren has not commented since her resignation.
As principal of high-performing Heritage Elementary, McQueen was popular and beloved by many. Parents, students and community members held a rally in the wake of his firing, and another parent gathered 533 signatures on a petition calling for his reinstatement. Those signatures will not bring him back.
“Clearly, people have moved on,” Watson said.
The district’s substance-abuse policy states that reporting for or remaining on duty with a blood-alcohol concentration of .02 percent or greater is prohibited. It allows for a range of corrective action, extending from a letter of warning to termination.