Band director's arrests does not affect employment at CMU; Batcheller 'sorry' for drunk driving

The job of Central Michigan University’s marching band director is not at stake despite two drunk driving incidents within the last three years.

James Batcheller, 50, was arrested once in February 2007 and once in October for operating while intoxicated.

The assistant professor of music was sentenced to 10 days in jail for the second offense, but only served five after receiving credit for the other days from Jan. 14-19.

Salma Ghanem, dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts, said the college will not discipline Batcheller.

“As much as we are aware, there has been no problem in terms of his work,” Ghanem said. “His job performance has not been affected in any way.”

Ghanem said the college investigated the matter. Batcheller, a CMU alumnus, has served as director of the Marching Chips since 2000.

He expressed regret Tuesday for his actions, saying he has struggled with problems related to drinking for several years.

“I’m glad to say with the support of friends, family and counseling, I am in recovery and addressed those issues,” Batcheller said. “I’m embarrassed, but mostly sorry to those I’ve hurt or those who feel is a breach of trust. It’s mine and I own it.”

According to police and court documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act, Batcheller pleaded guilty Dec. 2 to his second OWI offense. Along with the jail sentence, he was fined $402 and owed $1,510 with other various court fees.

Batcheller was sentenced to 24 months of probation.

After entering jail in January, Isabella County Jail records state Batcheller told police he no longer used alcohol.

His first offense came Feb. 23, 2007. He was arrested, but released the next day after posting 10 percent of his $3,000 bond. He later went to court and pleaded guilty, Isabella County Prosecutor Larry Burdick said.

Batcheller also was arrested in 1984 while attending CMU as a student for failure to appear in court in Detroit.