Sandra Husk, one of three finalists for Seattle school superintendent, acknowledges she had a drunken-driving arrest in her past, but Seattle school leaders say that won't exclude her from consideration.

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Seattle School Board President Michael DeBell says Sandra Husk, one of the three superintendent finalists, told district representatives in Seattle she had a drunken-driving arrest 12 years ago, but he does not consider the incident an obstacle to hiring her.

“Yes, we were definitely aware of that,” DeBell said. “All of our candidates have been vetted and gone through extensive background checks.”

Husk, superintendent in Salem, Ore., headed a Colorado district when she was stopped by the Colorado State Patrol in February 2000 and was originally charged with speeding and driving under the influence.

A police report quoted in The Denver Post said that Husk, before agreeing to take a sobriety test, grew angry with the patrolman and demanded to be released, telling him she was “an important person.”

Later that year, in a plea-bargain agreement, Husk pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of driving while impaired. Under the agreement, as reported in The Post, Husk completed 24 hours of community service and was required to attend a 12-month alcohol-awareness program.

Thursday, in a phone interview with The Seattle Times, Husk confirmed the arrest. “It was a very regrettable mistake in my history, a dramatic and traumatic learning experience for me, and an event that has never been repeated,” she said.

Husk left Colorado in 2001 to become superintendent of a district in Tennessee. In 2006, she was hired as superintendent of Salem-Keizer Public Schools.

Rick Kimball, board chairman of the Salem-Keizer Public Schools, said Husk told the Oregon district about the incident when she was being considered for the Salem job. “It was not a deterrent to our decision-making,” said Kimball, who praised Husk as a leader and innovator.

In Seattle, DeBell said, “Obviously everything of relevance goes into the candidate’s overall profile, but this was a long time ago. Our last president had a DUI. I think it’s something that does happen to people occasionally.”

Jack Broom: 206-464-2222 or