Tuesday, July 14, 2020

School psychologist sentenced

Successful completion of 90-day sober living will suspend 30 days of jail time

By Cayla Vidmar

Former Gunnison Watershed School District psychologist Patrick Robinson was sentenced last week to 18 months of probation and a possible jail stint for an incident that occurred in December 2017 in which he made the comment, ”I’m going to end up shooting someone,” on school grounds. Robinson plead guilty to a Class 3 misdemeanor earlier this month prior to a jury trial.

According to a court order drafted by county court judge Ashley Burgemeister, Robinson had been placed on a supervisory plan by former district superintendent Doug Treadway because “He was accused of drinking on the job several times.” On the day of the incident, the court order states that a colleague and Robinson were talking outside the guidance counseling office, during which Robinson appeared to be “drunk or hungover—he had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and smelled of alcohol.”

During the conversation, according to the court order, Robinson said that he did not feel respected at his job, “mumbling incoherently” and then stated clearly “I’m going to end up shooting someone,” at which point his colleague escorted Robinson out of the school, and reported the incident to the Gunnison High School principal, who initiated a valley-wide school lockout. Robinson was later fired from his position with the school district.

During the sentencing, Robinson appeared clear-eyed and relieved with the conclusion of the court proceedings eight months after the incident. He was sentenced to 18 months of supervised probation, with no possession or consumption of alcohol, and no possession or attempt to purchase firearms. A protection order for the school district will also remain in place for the duration of Robinson’s probation. He will also serve 90 days at Carla Vista sober living facility, and successful completion of the program will waive a 30-day jail sentence.

Joshua Dougherty, deputy district attorney representing the people of the state of Colorado, stated during the sentencing that “This involved a massive impact on our schools, this involved a lot of impact on the parents throughout the community.” He continued, “Part of the purpose of this plea bargain, your honor, is that it has become clear through a lot of the witness statements in this case … that Mr. Robinson needs help … he needs mental health treatment and there appears to have been some kind of alcohol problem.”

Jon Schumacher, defense council representing Robinson, noted during the sentencing that Robinson had been sober since the incident.

“The reason the case ran up so close to trial is that the question is whether that threat was a credible threat,” Schumacher explained. “Mr. Robinson had no intention of harming anybody, and again it comes down to, if that statement was made, you don’t make that kind of statement at school.

“Mr. Robinson accepts responsibility for what happened,” Schumacher continued. “He was on the job for 18 years and the students meant everything to him and he cared deeply about his job and even psychologists can have mental health issues and substance abuse issues.”

Judge Burgemeister said Robinson’s actions had impacts, saying, “Your actions in December I think shook the sense of safety in the community, obviously it shook the sense of safety for students and staff and in turn their families because they think that school is sort of a place where they can rest assured that their family members are safe.”

Leslie Nichols, current Gunnison Watershed School District superintendent, wrote via e-mail, “The Patrick Robinson incident allowed us to carefully review our practices and reflect on our response to the situation, but no major changes to our emergency plans resulted from the event.”

Nichols also provided the school district drug and alcohol policy, which states “an employee knowingly in possession of or under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance shall be suspended immediately” if possession is on school grounds, whether or not school is in session, at any school-sponsored or sanctioned activity, or on the way to school.

Robinson will begin his 90-day stay at the Carla Vista sober living facility and his 30-day jail sentence will be waived upon successful completion of the program.

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