Statement from Joliet Township High School District Regarding Driver’s Ed Teacher Charged with DUI

The following statement was issued by Joliet Township High School District Superintendent Cheryl McCarthy on a driver’s education teacher being charged with DUI. Find WJOL’s original report here.
Joliet Central High School Parents and Guardians:
            I am writing to update you on a situation you may have encountered today in the media.  One of our teachers and drivers’ education instructors, Nestor Nowak, has been charged with Driving Under the Influence by the Joliet Police in connection with an incident that occurred on April 6, 2017.  Before describing the incident, it is important for you to know that Mr. Nowak was immediately on leave April 6, and has not been in a District 204 vehicle, nor at work, since that date.  Mr. Nowak’s continued employment in District 204 is under review.
            On the morning of April 6, 2017 (a School Improvement Day), while students were not in attendance, Mr. Nowak was discovered unresponsive behind the wheel of one of the District’s drivers’ education vehicles.  Fearing a medical emergency, District employees called for an ambulance and Mr. Nowak was taken to the hospital.  However, it became clear to District employees later that day that alcohol, and not a health emergency, was possibly the cause of Mr. Nowak’s condition.  Mr. Nowak was immediately on leave and the district opened an investigation into the incident.
            When the District’s administrators attempted to contact Mr. Nowak to be interviewed, we were advised that he was in a treatment program and would not be released for some time.  We were unable to interview Mr. Nowak, but continued to gather evidence that was provided on April 13 to the Joliet Police Department.  The Police Department ultimately issued a warrant for Mr. Nowak’s arrest on May 9.  We appreciate the assistance of the Joliet Police and will continue to cooperate with the Department in every way.
            It has also come to light that Mr. Nowak pled guilty in July of 2014 to a DUI charge.  The District was not aware of that fact until today and we are investigating further to determine why we were not made aware of that incident.  At this time, we have no evidence to indicate that Mr. Nowak was ever under the influence while he was teaching behind-the-wheel to District 204 students.  However, we encourage any persons to come forward who may have information to the contrary.  Our investigation continues and when we have additional information we are able to share, we will do so.
            I share your frustration with what appears to be an unconscionable breach of the trust that you place in our District and our staff members.  Please do not let this incident reflect unfairly on our incredible teachers and support staff who honor your trust every day through their hard work and dedication.  We will continue to work to figure out the entire story behind this matter and we will take all appropriate measures to ensure the continued safety and well-being of your children. 
                                                                                    Dr. Cheryl McCarthy, Superintendent


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