photo of Mark Zuzek. Photo courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s Office
Incoming school board member arrested for intoxicated driving

Hastings School Board Directorelect Mark Zuzek was arrested in Woodbury on charges of driving while intoxicated on Thursday, Nov. 17 at 8:53 a.m.

The 58-year-old former Hastings School District teacher, coach and administrator was the leading vote-getter in the special election to fill a seat on the board. The arrest comes just days before a school board special meeting, set for Monday, Nov. 28 at 9:30 a.m.-10 a.m., to approve the certification of the election. Zuzek would be scheduled to take his seat on the board in December, according to the school district.

Zuzek defeated challengers Todd Kullman and Pam Onnen in the Nov. 8 special election. It is another chapter in what has been a tumultuous year for the Hastings School Board. Board members Carrie Tate and Jessica Dressley were reprimanded in the spring for removing books for sale at a Hastings Middle School Book Fair that they didn’t think were grade-level appropriate. Unsuccessful attempts were made by former Director Mike Reis to talk about Board Chair Brian Davis’ removal as head of the Hastings YMCA for alleged violations of the organization’s code of conduct. In May, Reis was censured by the board in a move that dictated how he could communicate with school administration. He resigned his position in July, necessitating the special election to fill his seat, which runs through 2024. At recent board meetings, parents have staged silent protests, with sexually graphic images from a book available in the High School Media Center displayed on signs.

News of the Zuzek arrest circulated on social media early Friday morning around Hastings. Reports indicate that when pulled over by Woodbury Police after receiving complaints about an erratic driver, Zuzek reportedly had a blood alcohol content of 0.181, more than double the legal limit for intoxication in Minnesota of .08.

An email attempt to reach Zuzek for comment was unsuccessful.

Reports indicate Zuzek was pulled over near 1811 Weir Drive and officers reported smelling alcohol. He was arrested and booked into the Washington County Jail in Stillwater on charges of Operating a Motor Vehicle Under the Influence of Alcohol and a Third-Degree Aggravating Factor because his blood-alcohol content exceeded 0.16.

Zuzek reportedly was still being held in the jail Friday. Third-degree driving while impaired is a gross misdemeanor and may be punishable by long-term monitoring.

Police received a call of a vehicle that ran a stop sign and was swerving.

“At Approximately 7:51 a.m., Officer Olson and Sergeant Veenendall of the Woodbury Police Department were dispatched on a report of a vehicle running a stop sign and swerving all over the road in the area of Valley Creek Road and Weir Drive in the City of Woodbury, County of Washington, State of Minnesota. Officers located the suspect vehicle and observed it drift over the lane lines several times. Officers initiated a traffic stop and identified the driver as Mark Allen Zuzek,” the Probable Cause Statement filed with Washington County Court states. “The defendant smelled of alcoholic beverages, had watery eyes, slurred speech and was slow to respond to questions. The defendant admitted he had two alcoholic beverages the night before. The defendant performed field sobriety tests, of which he performed poorly. The defendant submitted to a PBT which showed a result of 0.181.”

The Datamaster Breath Test administered at the Woodbury Police Department showed a blood alcohol concentration of 0.18.

An initial court appearance was held, and Zuzek was released on a $12,000 bond with no restrictions other than making his next scheduled court appearance.

Zuzek is being represented in this case by Jennifer S. Bovitz of Burke & Thomas, PLLP, of Arden Hills, MN. The Omnibus Hearing is the next scheduled court appearance, which is set for March 30, 2023, at 9 a.m. via Zoom.

November 23, 2022