JOLIET – A high school driver's education instructor was arrested last week after recently being found passed out drunk in the driver's ed car in front of Joliet Central High School, police said.
Deputy Chief Al Roechner said school staff found Nestor M. Nowak, 46, of Shorewood, "slumped over the wheel" of the white Ford around 11 a.m. on April 6 outside the main entrance's parking lot.
"The faculty member who found him was concerned he'd had a stroke or other medical issue, but did detect the strong odor of alcohol," Roechner said.
School staff called for an ambulance and Nowak was taken to Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center. According to police reports, Nowak had more than three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system.
Roechner said staff notified the school liaison officer about the incident on April 13. In a message to parents, Joliet District 204 Superintendent Cheryl McCarthy said that Nowak was placed on leave on April 6 and "has not been in a District 204 vehicle, nor at work, since that date," saying his continued employment with the district is under review.
"We reviewed the case with the state's attorney's office and a warrant was issued on May 9," Roechner said.
Nowak was charged with two counts of driving under the influence and released after posting $10,000 bond.
McCarthy's statement said that, when it attempted to contact Nowak for an interview on the matter "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."
According to Will County court records, the driver's education instructor pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol following an arrest in New Lenox in 2014 and was sentenced to a year of court supervision. Court records show 12 other traffic and parking violations for Nowak dating back to 1990.
"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," McCarthy's statement said.
"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," McCarthy wrote. "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."