PORTSMOUTH - A Seabrook elementary school tutor who was drunk and dropped her toddler while boarding a Portsmouth Harbor cruise boat won't serve her jail sentence until next summer, so she can keep her job. Holly Spreen, 35, of Newmarket pleaded guilty to misdemeanor reckless conduct Monday.
Police say that on July 1 at 1:50 p.m., she dropped her 2-year-old son at the port and his leg fell between the boat and the dock. The boy was not hurt, but the boat's crew became concerned and called police.
When police arrived, Spreen initially refused a Breathalyzer test, but eventually recorded a .49 blood-alcohol level at Portsmouth Regional Hospital - more than six times the legal driving limit.
"At .49, most people would be dead or in a coma," prosecutor Corey MacDonald said at Spreen's July arraignment.
Spreen's original trial date was set for Aug. 14 at Portsmouth District Court, but was continued when she left for alcohol rehabilitation at Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches in Lake Park, Fla. A letter to the court from the rehabilitation center said Spreen attended a successful course of treatment from Sept. 17 through Oct. 12. She was evaluated as having a "fair prognosis."
After Spreen pleaded guilty to the charge, her attorney, John Driscoll, argued against incarceration because of his client's need for employment stability as part of her ongoing battle to stay sober.
However, Judge Sawako Gardner sentenced Spreen to 12 months in jail - with all but 30 days suspended - and said she could serve it starting July 1, 2008. Spreen was also given credit for three days served awaiting trial.
In addition to the disorderly conduct sentence, Spreen also received a 12-month suspended sentence for a simple assault charge related to a domestic dispute on June 23. According to court documents, she is divorced and involved in a custody dispute over her son.
"If she misses more time, she's at great risk for losing her job," said MacDonald, who said he didn't have a preference for when Spreen served her jail time.
MacDonald would not comment on whether it was appropriate to have Spreen return to a teaching environment before serving her sentence, saying it is "not within my area of responsibility."
"There may be other people who look at that, mainly the school board for which she works," said MacDonald.
Jeni Mosca, principal of Seabrook Elementary School, would not comment on Spreen's employment. Holly Spreen's name still appears on the school's Web site under the "teacher" listings.
A message left at the school superintendent's office was not returned yesterday.
Michelle Heywood, a member of the Seabrook School Board, said the issue of Spreen's employment had not yet been discussed and said she couldn't comment on Spreen's case. Other members of the five-member board did not return phone calls seeking comment.