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Tacoma's 'drunk teacher' watched her shame go viral. Then she killed herself

caption: A picture of Klara Bowman at the home of her parents, Robin Einerson and Tom Bowman.
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A picture of Klara Bowman at the home of her parents, Robin Einerson and Tom Bowman.
Tacoma News Tribune

Bill Radke speaks with Tacoma News Tribune columnist Matt Driscoll about the sad story of Tacoma kindergarten teacher Klara Bowman, who became infamous as 'Drunk Teacher.'

In March 2016, Bowman was fired after being discovered drunk in front of her kindergarten classroom. Local and national news headlines ran with the story.

Often, says Driscoll, the stories would focus on "salacious details" like the empty bottles found in Bowman's classroom, or the story that she walked into a wall while being escorted out, or how incredibly high her blood alcohol content was.

Driscoll was dismayed by the tone, and wanted stories to also focus on the terrible struggle of alcohol addiction. During the height of the scandal, Driscoll wrote a column pleading for compassion.

Three months later, Bowman died by suicide. That's when Driscoll decided to tell the whole story of how Bowman ended up in front of the class that day. And what happened after.

Driscoll interviewed Bowman's friends and family, and wrote a profile showing there was more to Klara Bowman than her lowest moment.

Among the lessons: Bowman's alcoholism was linked to an early trauma. And, according to friends and family, the fact that she was discovered drunk in February, of all months, was no coincidence.

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