Portland elementary school principal charged with drunken driving

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PORTLAND — An elementary school principal is scheduled to appear in court next month after she was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Dawn L. Kenniston, 55, of Scarborough, was arrested June 6 shortly before 9 p.m. in South Portland. Kenniston has been principal at Fred P. Hall Elementary School since June 2015. Prior to that, she was principal at Longfellow Elementary School.

Interim Superintendent of Schools Jeanne Crocker on Monday confirmed Kenniston’s arrest, but would not say when the School Department became aware of the incident.

“We’re concerned,” Crocker said, but she declined to discuss the case because it is “a personnel matter.” She also would not say if Kenniston would remain on the job or be placed on leave.

According to South Portland Police Lt. Frank Clark, Kenniston’s vehicle ran out of gas in a travel lane on Westbrook Street near Broadway. Clark said an officer who stopped to help her “noticed the odor of alcohol.”

The officer performed a field sobriety test, after which Kenniston was arrested. She was taken to the Cumberland County Jail, submitted a breathalyser test and was charged with one count of operating under the influence.

Clark would not say what Kenniston’s blood-alcohol level was, except that it was over the legal limit of 0.08 percent. He said Kenniston has no prior convictions, and her case has been sent to the Cumberland County district attorney for review. 

Kenniston was freed after paying $60 bail June 6, according to the jail records department. If she fails to appear for a July 20 court date, she would have to pay $5,000. Under conditions of her release, Kenniston may not possess alcohol and must submit to random searches for alcohol.

Kenniston’s arrest came about a year after School Board member Jenna Vendil was charged with OUI in Scarborough. Vendil pleaded guilty to driving to endanger last October, and was re-elected to the board in November.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.