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Florida teacher accused of being drunk at school fights to keep job
A Florida middle school teacher is fighting to keep her job after being accused of drinking on the job and having inappropriate conversations with students of a "personal nature."
Erin Cougill allegedly showed up to West Hernando Middle School in Brooksville, Fla., last December drunk and was stumbling down the hallways with dilated pupils and slurring her speech, according to a district investigation report.
But the 47-year-old, who has been on paid leave since the incident, says that her diabetes affected alcohol tests that showed she was over the legal limit of .08.
Cougill admitted that she had only been drinking with friends the night before, but not on day of the alleged incident.
"I had two six ounce glasses of French wine and two shots of scotch," Cougill told ABC News affiliate WFTS-TV, outside her home Friday.
Cougill also said she stopped drinking around midnight the night before but that due to her medical condition, her body doesn't process alcohol well, hence the above-limit alcohol reading.
"I know now that I should have called and said, 'Look I'm not going to come in.' It would have been a lot less traumatic," Cougill said.
The district investigation report claims that at roughly 10 a.m. on Dec. 11, Cougill struck up an incoherent conversation with Assistant Principal Angela Kennedy.
Kennedy called Resource Officer Deputy Shane Landgraff, who went to Cougill's classroom where she was allegedly standing red-faced and glassy-eyed while having a conversation with students that was of "a personal nature which is inappropriate," the report said
Not long after that Cougill turned in her badge and keys to Kennedy. A blood test later showed she was "well above" the legal limit.
The report then claims Cougill locked herself in a bathroom stall with a plastic cup. The cup was empty when she emerged and the bathroom smelled like alcohol, Kennedy reported.
Cougill told WFTS-TV the cup was filled with iced tea and denied locking herself in the stall, saying she "shut the door because they were breathing down my neck and I felt pretty intimidated."
"I don't have a lot of faith in the fact that I'm going to be treated fairly," Cougill said.
The school district did not immediately respond to ABC News' calls. On Tuesday, the school board will convene to decide whether Cougill should be dismissed.