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GRPS looking into conduct of teacher who jumped in Grand River

7:06 PM, Dec 1, 2011   |    comments
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The Grand River

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM)- Grand Rapids Public Schools is looking into the conduct of one its teachers after he plead guilty to drinking and driving and leaving the scene of an accident. A viewer contacted 13 On Your Side with concerns that he is still in the classroom.

It happened on May 29, 2011. Douglas Luke, 49, was pulled from the Grand River by the Grand Rapids Fire Dept. He fought the rescue, but was eventually pulled out, handcuffed, and taken to the hospital.

Circuit Court documents show that it all started when Luke ran from the scene of a personal injury accident, where two children in the other car, suffered minor injuries.

Luke jumped in the River. The police report states that at one point, he punched a firefighter who was trying to catch him.

Luke was eventually charged with assaulting and obstructing a police officer, operating while intoxicated-- 2nd offense and fleeing the scene of a personal injury accident. The Prosecutor says Luke was well over the legal limit for alcohol.

WZZM 13 news has also learned that Luke is still teaching at Kent Hills Elementary School in Grand Rapids. "We are investigating this," says GRPS Spokesman John Helmholdt. He says the district is now looking into exactly what happened. Luke agreed to a plea deal in October.

He pled guilty to operating while intoxicated--2nd offense, and fleeing the scene of an personal injury accident, both misdemeanors. In return, the felony charge was dismissed.

Helmholdt says, "State law prohibits them from employing anyone with a felony on their record." That means, Luke will likely keep his job as a teacher. The Michigan Department of Education school code prohibits some misdemeanors if they involved criminal sexual conduct or child abuse. "Employees have rights and we must honor that and follow guidelines and first and foremost protect our students."

Luke teaches special education for the GRPS. The district says it will continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding his arrest. Luke will be sentenced later this month. The two misdemeanors carry a penalty of up to one year each.  

By Sarah Sell

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