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Spokane school board member resigns after allegedly hitting bicyclist while driving drunk

UPDATED: Tue., July 25, 2017

FILE – University High School teacher Paul Schneider conducts his A.P. History class, Nov. 3, 2016, in Spokane Valley, Wash. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
FILE – University High School teacher Paul Schneider conducts his A.P. History class, Nov. 3, 2016, in Spokane Valley, Wash. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

A teacher accused of drunken driving resigned Tuesday from the Spokane School Board.

Paul Schneider, 42, announced his resignation in a letter addressed to Spokane Public Schools board President Deana Brower.

Schneider is accused of driving drunk on June 21, clipping a bicyclist and fleeing the scene briefly before hitting two street signs and crashing his car into a power pole, according to court records.

“While my strong commitment to serving the students, families and educators in Spokane Schools remains unwavering, I do not wish my continued service on the board to distract from the important work of serving kids and their families,” he said in the letter.

In the letter, Schneider said he and his family were “humbled by the tremendous support” they have received. He characterized the resignation as a “temporary withdrawal from public life.”

Schneider filed to run as a Democrat against Republican incumbent Sen. Michael Baumgartner in early June. The 6th Legislative District election won’t occur until November 2018. On July 13, Schneider said he didn’t plan to run for state office.

“There is no doubt that this decision was difficult for Paul to make,” Brower said in a news release. “His passion for education and what is best for the classrooms of our district has been evident over the past 18 months of his service.”

The board of directors will meet in early August with the district lawyer to figure out the necessary “steps and a timeline” to fill the vacant position.

Prior to hitting the bicyclist on June 21, police say Schneider’s car struck a GMC pickup truck parked at the Spokane Public Schools administrative offices at 200 N. Bernard St. He fled, rather than report the collision, according to court documents. The pickup was owned by Shawn Jordan, the district’s director of secondary programs and special services, according to court documents.

Schneider is charged with vehicular assault, two counts of failure to remain at the scene of an accident and driving under the influence. He has pleaded not guilty.

The school board of directors met on the evening of June 21 starting at 5:30 p.m., according to a meeting notice. Schneider was not present at the meeting.

Schneider was elected to the board in 2015 and is a teacher at University High School in the Central Valley School District. Schneider ended his letter by praising Spokane Public Schools employees.

“Your service both inside and out of the classroom is inspiring,” he said. “I am blessed to have such amazing family and friends and thank you for your continued prayers and good wishes as we continue to heal.”

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