ST. FRANCIS — David Lodes, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, was charged with operating while under the influence on Nov. 24 for an incident that occurred on Nov. 18. It was his second offense.
“I wish I could speak with each of you on an individual basis to tell you how sorry and embarrassed I am about this event,” Lodes said in a statement e-mailed to pastors, principals and co-workers on Dec. 9, alerting them of the incident that was reported that day by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Lake Country Reporter. “I understand that behavior like this may have damaged the trust you had in me as superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. I apologize for that. Please know that I am truly sorry and will work to regain your respect and confidence.”
Lodes, whose blood alcohol level was .308, was pulled over by a Delafield police officer who followed Lodes after he failed to proceed through the intersection of northbound State Highway 83 and I-94 when the light changed. According to the citation, Lodes accelerated into the intersection after a truck directly behind Lodes’ vehicle honked its horn, and continued northbound on Highway 83, failing to signal as he changed lanes, and signaling only when he turned eastbound onto Golf Road. He was arrested after failing field sobriety tests and refusing a preliminary breath test.
“I ask not only for your forgiveness,” Lodes said in his Dec. 9 statement, “but also for your prayers and support as I work to address this disease.”
Julie Wolf, communications director for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, said that Lodes, who continues to work in the archdiocese, has received verbal support from the leadership of the archdiocese.
“Catholic schools provide an excellent academic preparation for students that is based in faith and our faith tells us that we should forgive people, because we’re all human and we all make mistakes,” Wolf said in a phone interview with your Catholic Herald.
“We just pledge our support to Dave,” said Sue Gorski, director of Central Offices and Agencies in Human Resource Services for the archdiocese. “Obviously, he needs to take full responsibility and seek continued treatment and help with his alcoholism.”
The archdiocese has a progressive disciplinary policy that includes a warning and documented conversation, a written warning and discussion with possible termination depending on the act of conduct and whether it was during work time, according to Gorski.
“As long as it’s not influencing the work situation, and, obviously, this didn’t, because it happened outside of work, the behavior as such and the action does influence Dave’s reputation here as he outlined that in his letter – his statement, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens for him and how it may impact his work life,” Gorski said.
Lodes said he is in a counseling/treatment program, and in a systematic approach with Alcoholics Anonymous.
“It’s hard to define if people have lost trust or to what degree they maybe have lost trust, but for all practical purposes, I mean, I take full responsibility for my actions and the relapse that took place,” Lodes said in a phone interview with your Catholic Herald, referring to a relapse from his first conviction for drunken driving in 2004.
“What’s next for me,” Lodes said, “is to continue my continued commitment to the treatment plans and program, and my desire to continue to work to maintain the quality of Catholic schools and the programs we provide for children.”
Since October 2007, Lodes has served as superintendent of 129 Catholic schools that serve an estimated 32,871 students in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. He is former superintendent of Arrowhead School District, Hartland.
Lodes will appear in court on Jan. 4, 2010. If convicted, he faces up to six months in prison and revocation of his license for up to 18 months.