Dedham principal placed on leave after drunken driving arrest

Debra Gately.
Debra Gately.Weston Police

The principal of the Dedham Middle School has been placed on administrative leave following her arrest by Weston police on a drunken driving charge last weekend, according to the school system and police.

In a statement posted on the school system’s Web page, Superintendent Michael J. Welch wrote that he learned Sunday that the principal, Debra R. Gately, had been arrested on a charge of operating under the influence.

Gately, who was selected the middle school principal of the year for 2015 by the Massachusetts Secondary School Administrators Association, was arrested by Weston police at about 12:45 a.m. Sunday, officials said.


“Dedham Middle School Principal Debra Gately has been placed on administrative leave as the investigation into charges that she was driving under the influence of alcohol continues,” Welch wrote in the statement posted on the site Monday.

He wrote that he had been notified Sunday that Gately “had been pulled over by a police officer and subsequently arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated.”

He said that “based on the seriousness of the charges, I determined the best course of action was to immediately place Ms. Gately on leave so she has the time to focus on her situation and we can conduct a thorough investigation while minimizing the disruption this situation is causing in our community.”

Weston police Wednesday released a report on Gately’s arrest. In it, police said Gately failed a field sobriety test and later allowed police to conduct a chemical breath test that showed her blood alcohol level was .19, more than double the state limit of .08.

Gately, who lives in Waltham, was spotted driving erratically in Waltham and then on Interstate 95 by off-duty Waltham Police Officer Cory Amarante, who reported he saw her nearly crash her car four times.

When Gately drove off the interstate, she stopped in the parking lot of a day care center on River Road and Amarante followed her there. At that point, Amarante took Gately’s keys so she could no longer drive, police said.


Weston police then arrived.

“Debra had an extremely strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on her breath and [it] was very hard to understand her as she spoke as her speech was significantly slurred,” Weston Officer Robert Powell wrote. “I also observed that her eyes were extremely red, glassy, and blood shot. I asked Debra if she had consumed any alcohol that evening and she stated ‘three vodka drinks.’ ”

Gately was credited by the administrators association with obtaining a $10,000 grant to buy graphing calculators for the school, among other successes during her tenure.

“As is often the case with middle school principals, Ms. Gately is involved with all aspects of the school,” the association wrote in honoring her. “She uses her communication skills to keep a constant pulse on the needs of all members of the Dedham Middle School community.”

Gately was arraigned Monday in Waltham District Court on a charge of operating under the influence of alcohol, according to Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan’s office.

Gately, 44, pleaded not guilty and was released on personal recognizance.

John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.