Santa Margarita School principal convicted of DUI

September 18, 2008


Santa Margarita Elementary School Principal Melanie Karp has been sentenced to two days in the county jail and three years probation for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Commissioner Stephen B. Sefton also levied a fine of $1,726 and ordered the school official to attend alcohol abuse classes after she pled no contest to a drunk-driving charge.

Atascadero police arrested Karp April 12. Her blood alcohol was .12, one and a half times the legal limit.

Karp was slated to begin serving her sentence at the San Luis Obispo County Jail September 16 at 7 p.m. In exchange for jail time, she was admitted into the Alternative Work Program, wherein eight hours of community service substitute for 24 hours in jail.

A few years ago, parents said they witnessed Karp plow into a car in the school parking lot, park, and then head back into her office without leaving a note on the car she damaged. According to sources, Karp apologized and paid for damages after being confronted. Witnesses to that incident agreed not to inform authorities.

Karp did not return requests for comment.

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Member Opinions:

By: WiseGuy on 10/22/08

Sorry , but I consider it absurd for someone here to state that failing schools in California are mainly due to allowing the employment of teachers who have had a DUI conviction.

I also disagree with calling good teachers "lazy liberal union members that want to do nothing." In FACT, there are thousands of California teachers who are "liberal" but NOT lazy. FAR from it, in fact. Are there lazy teachers? Undoubtedly. But they span the entire political spectrum.

Teachers should be honored, and all the ridiculous insults that some people throw at teachers are despicalbe and harm our education system. Being a teacher is a tough but honorable profession. Taking cheap, unfounded pot shots at teachers serves no good purpose. It is schoolyard bullying at its worst and discourages good teaching.

Hate-mongering and scapegoating honorable teachers is not going to improve our school systems. Is that what Jesus would do? I think not.

P.S. You're NOT in Kansas anymore.

By: George on 10/21/08

Hai! I am leaving the comments as example but I am throwing in the towel for No Spin Zone, he is so out of the house.

By: George on 10/19/08

In other words

By: compassiongood4soul on 10/4/08

I have known Melanie Karp for the past 26 years of my life. She has acted as a second mother to my sister and I. I recall, as a child, cooking in the kitchen with her. I recall traveling to the snow and the beach, to soccer practice and birthday parties. I recall one specific time when she read inspirational stories aloud to a hotel room full of chatty high school girls (myself included) during an overnight soccer tournament trip and had every one of us engaged – and silent – by page 2.

I am disgusted with some of the things I have read here. Yes, everyone has the right to their own opinion; however, these malicious postings are wrong and should be stopped immediately. The personal life of Mrs. Karp, through the good times and bad, is just that – personal. NO ONE, NO ONE, NO ONE has the right to discuss anything related to her family. Every family deals with different issues that can be inspiring, beautiful, exciting, difficult, and heartbreaking. No one has the right to pass judgement on another. We are all human, and because of that fact, we all make mistakes throughout our lives. These mistakes are what mold us, change us, allow us to grow and learn and become better members of society.

Melanie has been involved with educating our youth since before I came into this world. An educator's job is stressful, oftentimes looked down upon, underpaid, emotional, and can also be the most rewarding job in the world. How do I know? Melanie Karp inspired me to become an educator. As I child, I would work in her classrooms and watch her engage her students. I would see her organizing events such as Jump for Heart. I would help her in her classroom during the HOURS and DAYS of overtime it took to run a classroom of learners as effectively and efficiently as she did. She was and still is an inspiration to me as a professional educator in a world of skeptics and critics.

I am asking everyone on this site to pause for a moment from the hussle and bussle, from the ranting and raving. Close your eyes and think of a moment in your life that you would like to take back. An embarrassing comment made, a hurtful action taken…can you think of one, two, ten? I do not pass judgement over your decisions. Yes, the law must be upheld. Yes, it is unsafe to drink and drive. I believe with every bone in my body – because I know this person, truly know her – that Melanie Karp has taken full responsibility for her actions, and that the law has done their job as well. Leave it alone, go outside, take a deep breath, look around, and enjoy the life that you have been given.

By: slacker on 10/2/08

Better the principal, then the bus driver.

It's easy to pass judgement; It's hard to show compassion.

Due to my size, 1 drink puts me over the legal limit to drive. Even though I feel fine.

Due to my size, I cannot give blood. Even though my blood type is in heavy demand.

I've had a mimosa at Sunday brunch after Mass, then driven my twins home. Was I drunk? No. Could I have gotten a DUI?…probably.

Imagine being in her shoes, and how it would feel to be judged…

Let's just hope it doesn't happen again.