Assistant accused of DUI while driving school van; medicine cited

5/19/15. 10News at 5. Federal and state officials have jointly filed a lawsuit against four "phony cancer charities" and their leaders. All four are based in Knoxville or have strong ties to the area.

(WBIR- SEVIER COUNTY) - A Sevier County school employee is facing a DUI charge after authorities say she drove 14 children to a swimming party in Maryville while intoxicated.

According to The King's Academy, Toni Gioioso has worked at the school as an administrative assistant 16 years.

Sevier County deputies stopped Gioioso about 11:50 a.m. Thursday after they received a call of "erratic driving" on Highway 411. She was driving a King's Academy van, according to headmaster and president Walter Grubb.

Deputies observed Gioioso crossing the double-yellow lines several times, nearly hitting several people head-on. When authorities turned on their emergency lights, she passed several safe stopping locations before stopping on Chapman Highway, according to authorities.

No students were in the van.

According to a statement to 10News from Grubb, prescription medication "may have played a significant role in her impairment."

Just before driving the fifth-graders, The King's Academy personnel saw nothing unusual about her behavior, according to Grubb.

"With regard to possible additional disciplinary action, it will be informative to know if other factors may have affected her driving ability," the school statement states. "Further, regarding the medication, we believe, but have not confirmed, that the medication is not accompanied with a restriction from driving. Finally, it will be relevant to know if it was taken as prescribed, and whether someone could and should reasonably anticipate possible impairment when taking it."

The incident report says Gioioso admitted to having taken prescribed antidepressant and blood pressure medications earlier that day.

Deputies say she did not smell of alcohol but did have blood shot eyes, slow movements, and constricted pupils.

Gioioso agreed to a series of field sobriety tests, which she failed.

She was taken into custody and transported to LeConte Medical Center for a blood draw.

According to Grubb, "When the preliminary details of the incident were made known to principal LeRoy Beam and me Friday morning, May 15, we determined that she would not be permitted to operate any academy vehicles until further notice. Her physical and emotional status at that time appeared to be normal and she was allowed to resume her limited duties as administrative assistant.

Her work record shows no past episodes of concern, according to Grubb.

She is restricted from operating school vehicles as well as "duties that involve critical decisions related to students, such as distributing student medications," according to the headmaster.


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