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TEACHER: When will we have had enough?

Letter by Michael DuCharme, Tacoma on Dec. 30, 2010 at 2:43 pm with 49 Comments »
December 30, 2010 4:56 pm

Re: “Teacher to appeal license suspension” (TNT, 12-30).

I don’t know about anybody else, but if a teacher gets convicted of touching a person inappropriately, I do not want that person teaching my children – or anyone else’s, for that matter.

To suspend their teaching license for three years just is not good enough. I suppose we should let Mary Kay Letourneau take up teaching again, too.

When do we stop feeling sorry for the perpetrator and start protecting the victims?

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Leave a comment Comments → 49
  1. WarmNfuzziOne says:

    This is the Washington Education Association at it’s normal.

  2. hey warmsutta: what are you talking about?

  3. cclngthr says:

    Michael,
    One concern I have even with this kind of issue is kids can falsely accuse a teacher of misconduct and they don’t get punished. This was evident in a high school in the Bethel School District. There has to be some form of due process in place.

    A person does have a right to seek appeals regardless of the charges, which he or she will be required to answer questions regarding such act.

    Another concern I have is the term inappropriate touch. What is legally considered inappropriate? Is a simple touch on the shoulder considered illegal? What about a young child hugging a teacher? Is that inappropriate at all times? If that is the case, we should mandate all forms of touching considered inappropriate between teachers and students. This also means absolutely no form of touching can occur, regardless of the situation.

    One problem with that case is districts do their own investigation rather than having OSPI conduct the investigation. When districts conduct their own investigation, teachers under suspicion can, and usually will move from one district to another. Since the state is unaware of the pending suspicions, districts do not screen applicants by asking the previous employer of any misconduct by the teacher. If the state does the investigation, they can automatically prevent the teacher from moving from one place to the next.

  4. nwcolorist says:

    freakwater, you’re sounding more like sumner every day.

  5. bobcat1a says:

    What has gay got to do with it, pighouse. I believe both the Morton teacher and Mary Kay were involved with students of the opposite sex. Do you want to ban heterosexual teachers? Two of the very best teachers I have ever known are gay. What’s your problem? Do you think it’s infectious or illegal? It’s about responsible adult behavior with children, not the sexual orientation of the adult or the child.

  6. firemannotfirefighter says:

    Until we reform the WEA, the NEA, and the AFT we will NOT have meaningful education reform.

    For the record, if I were to be not only accused of, but found to have enough evidence of inappropriately touching a patient, I would most likely be in jail. At the minimum, I would love the ability to practice Emergency medicine in the State of Washington and would lose my ability to obtain a National EMT cert (Meaning I would not be able to work as any level of EMT anywhere in the US). I would love my job, and depending on any conviction, my pension.

    This person? After 3 years will most likely be hired by another school district. The victims in this case include the young kids he touched, but the students he has yet to touch!

  7. cclngthr says:

    the3rdpigshouse,
    Although this was 20 years ago, what was mentioned by the state is any person that was openly gay is subjecting themselves to criticisms of parents who may choose to complain that an openly gay person is not worth the risk of being an educator. This is still true today where a Oregon student teacher was repremanded for his actions due to a discussion of him being gay.

    As far as touchy-feely people, are we including any kind of touch here? This includes children hugging a teacher and teachers/assistants helping students who require physical assistance in some way. If we forbid all touch, we are also prohibiting any kind of appropriate assistance some kids need.

  8. cclngthr says:

    firemannotfirefighter,
    What the conditions of the suspension are; the teacher must reapply for a new certificate with psychological evaluations proving the applicant (in this case, Moulton) has met the conditions to have the certificate reinstated. OSPI has the option to refuse to reinstate the certificate.

    His argument is whether touching a student on the shoulder is inappropriate. While I don’t have the details of what transpired, he has to explain that touching a student on the shoulder would be appropriate. One question that I do have is exactly how he touched the kid. Did he sneek up behind the kid and put his hand on their shoulder? Did he ever get their permission to touch them? It would be inappropriate to go up behind a kid and touch them, but it might be appropriate if someone to touch if they have the full attention of the other person and that person is aware of that happening.

  9. redneckbuck says:

    Until we give principals the power to hire and fire we cannot blame them for the workings of the school. It is almost impossible to fire a teacher. Districts are left with making the teachers life difficult. The do this by moving them to positions they hate. The kids suffer. Thanks WEA.

  10. cclngthr says:

    redneckbuck,
    Principals already have the ability to hire those within that building. HR sends them a packet with those applicants that qualify for the job and the principal makes a decision which one (after interviews) to hire. They can also dismiss a teacher from their building, which that info is sent to HR, who decides what to do with the teacher.

    A teacher does not have to accept a position if they don’t want it. They have the right to go elsewhere.

  11. Why is it necessary for the schools to be police and courts in our towns? We need to limit the instance of their powers.

  12. cclngthr: Your first question What is legally considered inappropriate? when a child may feel that the touch lasts too long or is different. Your second question. Is a simple touch on the shoulder considered illegal? Washington state it techinically is. In fact according to Tacoma Police If I was to go to you and just touched with my finger tip I could be charged with assualt. I believe the way it would be handle would arrest and release in which I would be given a summons and let go . Now Law enfrocement, security guards has the right to grab a person, use reasonable force if nescessary to detain them.

  13. Kevindot1 says:

    TOOCAN said: “Now Law enfrocement, security guards has the right to grab a person, use reasonable force if nescessary to detain them.”

    Which just basically gives bouncers with no professional training in bars and clubs the right to do whatever they see fit.

  14. truthbusterguy says:

    It’s more important for the WEA to protect perverts than educate our kids. Time has come to end teacher unions and start to rebuild the education system.

  15. blakeshouse says:

    Complaints are falling on deaf ears. This is just another example of the collusion between the union and the legislature. This is just another contract point that the legislature was told to bend over, grab their ankles, and deal with it. As always, they did just what they were told. While it is legal it is about as far from right as you can get

  16. spotted1 says:

    Folks, go back and read the original story. The district did its own investigation then suspended the guy without pay before letting law enforcement know what was going on. It should have, when sufficient evidence was found, gone to the police rather than handing down its own discipline. That appears to have fouled the situation up. Everything after that in the district was questionable because they all ready said that a 10 day unpaid admin leave was enough and the courts didn’t find him guilty because of his Alford ple.

    Yes, this guy could probably get a teaching license back in this state. Right or not , that is a state issue, not a WEA issue. It does not serve the WEA to have a child molestor in the classroom.

    When this guy applies for a new job, he MUST state this crime on the application. Any school district or principal worth their job will see this as a huge red flag and not hire. Again, not a WEA issue. An example of the administration that has the choice to do the job right or not.

  17. spotted1 says:

    And from the letter, since people are seeming to be calling for blood. How many times did Mary Kay break the law, and get convicted, before she was put in jail for a length of tme?

    You can’t tell me the courts aren’t a mess right now if Mary Kay can get convicted and not go to jail then commit the same crime again. Not saying its right, she should have been tossed in on the first conviction, but that was the courts error in this process, not the school district.

  18. cclngthr says:

    TOOCAN,
    Technically, a touch on the shoulder would not be considered assault, unless that touch is a grab or hard grip. That is according to the AG’s office. If a touch is unwanted, the person must state that, not have it be assumed. The reason for this is sometimes people must need some kind of physical assistance to do things. The person would be required to state why it would be considered assault as well.

    Law enforcement must have probable cause to detain someone and how they detain that person must be done in a way that touching is minimized. They cannot grab a person arbitrarily. They would be charged with assault if they don’t do it correctly. Look at the cases in Seattle where police are being questioned about this issue. Just because a cop told you a simple touch is assault does not mean it is.

    spotted1,
    Agreed, when districts do their own investigation, they are opening themselves up to scrutiny when they don’t require the state to do such investigation. While it is true he could get the certificate back if he met the conditions, that depends on what the state does require him to do.

    Regarding Mary K, courts first have to attempt to allow some kind of allowances due to due process rights, which is a legal requirement that is guaranteed. Courts cannot slap the most severe punishment possible on people without proving to the court it is justified.

  19. First_Lefty says:

    “She was the fourth of seven children, raised in a “strict Catholic household.”[5][6] When she was two years old her father began his political career and ran for a seat in the state legislature.[6] Later, he held positions as a California state senator and U.S. Congressman and he ran for president as an American Independent Party candidate in the 1972 U.S. presidential election”

    That’s about all you need to know about Mary Kay. If she was a male, she should have been a priest

  20. First_Lefty says:

    “nwcolorist says:
    December 30, 2010 at 7:17 pm
    freakwater, you’re sounding more like sumner every day.”

    and you are as obsessed as Roll_On

  21. First_Lefty says:

    Now to Morton.

    I only know what I’ve read in the media concerning this case, so I’ll speak to my own experience.

    I lived in this fine little town in the middle 80s. The local cop – who got angry with me because I told him off when he was not in uniform (he was my neighbor) – told the local dopers that I was providing the police with information on who was buying what and when (I wasn’t, but that didn’t matter). I had several of these fine citizens gathered and threaten me with bodily harm. Since I was a single father, I thought my best move was…..to move…and accepted a job in another city.

    Moral to the story – in Morton, it doesn’t matter if it’s the truth. All you need to do is get the rumor mill emotions flowing.

  22. cclngthr says:

    Teachers legally can reapply for a certificate within 1 year even if the certificate is revoked. Having the certificate suspended requires a longer time period from the time the certificate is pulled to the reapplication process.

    The only time a certificate is permanently revoked is when the teacher has done something that warrants a permanent revocation, which is limited to sex crimes, and certain felony crimes.

    A 4th degree assault charge would not be grounds to permanently revoke a teaching certificate. Maybe suspension, if that.

  23. LOL, get used to the FL stories, there are millions more to come. Well I’m done posting here, just wanted to warn everyone about FL, but it seems most of you have already figured it out for yourselves!

  24. cclngthr says:

    One thing to consider is the touch considered consensual. Legally, the term consent must be clear. This is either express, with a verbal agreement, or implied, when the person does not act negatively to the touch.

    Say an adult pats me on the shoulder. Technically if I don’t say I don’t want to be touched or I don’t react negatively to it (by jerking away or moving their hand from my shoulder) consent to be touched has been given.

    Also a court would require intent of the person doing the touching. Malicious intent would be a requirement in this.

  25. Sending your kids to public school is like hiring a babysitter from craigslist.

    Face it – the problem is the parents. Too often, it is one single female parent raising the kid(s).

    The outcome is predictable and expected. School vouchers are the answer but we can’t have that because it doesn’t help the unions and the bureaucraps.

  26. First_Lefty says:

    Well – pgroup – consider yourself lucky that you can anonymously go on a local newspaper and make assertions that all teachers are predators. Saying that in person might get you a nice fat lawsuit.

    (I’ll be waiting for the denial)

  27. spotted1 says:

    CCL…yes, the courts are their to protect people, provide leniency, blah blah blah. BUT…

    Mary Kay was CONVICTED OF HAVING SEXUAL RELATIONS WITH A MINOR and still allowed to walk in the community. I DON’T CARE where you are that ain’t right. She then continued to be involved with the kid, even getting pregnant, before she went to jail…

    Now, you CAN NOT tell me if that had been a man that the same thing would have happened. He would have been tossed in on the first conviction. Instead, she was allowed to remain in the community….

  28. spotted1 says:

    ccl…this guy will probably never work in education again. Regardless of whether he gets his certificate back or not. Since you are in education , you know he has to answer an initial questionnaire about whether he has been charged or convicted of any actions. His response has to be yes.

    He then must explain what he did and the district will determine if they want to take the risk to hire him. If he meets the state requirements, then it is on the district that hires him to determine if he should be hired not the state.

  29. ratujack says:

    no freakwater……….Mary K’s father was a Democrat!

  30. ratujack says:

    If a student has a fall or accident and “is in pain and needs help to get up” No touching so I guess the teacher should call 911. BUT DON’T TOUCH. Let the little rug rat lay there crying. Call his momma. NO TOUCHING. LAWSUIT!!!!!!

  31. ratujack says:

    We have become a sick society.

  32. dankuykendall says:

    He took the Alford Plea so pretty much plead guitly. Where is the question if the touch was inappropriate or not? No more teaching for him period!

  33. cclngthr says:

    spotted1,
    Courts will look into the issue of consent, which they will determine what consent is, which I described is what they will do. This also will happen during his appeal. Was consent, either express or implied given?

    With a case like Mary Kay, I see part of the problem is the child. Some kids will try to get sexually involved with adults, but it is the adult who should say absolutely no, particularly younger kids. Villi did admit he was the one that initiated such type of relationship, but Mary Kay should have refused to go there. If she were a man, she would be automatically locked up because it is assumed men have more desire to have sex than women.

    If you look at the disciplinary actions website on OSPI’s site, and look how many teachers who have had their certificate reinstated, and I do know several who are still working in the schools.
    http://www.k12.wa.us/ProfPractices/investigations/DisciplinaryAction.aspx

    I think if a teacher has been disciplined by the state, for anything, that teacher, if returning to a classroom, such information regarding the discipline should be required to be viewed by the schools, parents and the community. All parents of the students that teacher teaches should be given the documents of the disciplinary action and decide if that teacher should be teaching that child.

  34. jtarleton says:

    Even though union members represent about 12% of the labor force, maybe its time to do away with unions. Lets get rid of the teachers union, police and firefighters union, longshoremen, etc….. along with any other union including any union nurses might have. If they have issues or disagreements they could go to supervisors who could straighten it out…NOT

  35. bobcat1a says:

    Ratujack, Mary Kay’s father was:

    “John George Schmitz (August 12, 1930 – January 10, 2001) was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives and California State Senate from Orange County, California. He was also a member of the John Birch Society. In 1972 he was the American Independent Party candidate for President of the United States.
    Schmitz was notable for his extreme right-wing sympathies. By one measure, he was found to be the third most conservative member of Congress between 1937 and 2004[1] and the ultra-conservative John Birch Society, of which Schmitz was a longtime leader, later expelled him for extremist rhetoric.” (wikipedia)
    Do you just make up stuff?

  36. sue1234 says:

    The problem with education is too many uninformed and uneducated people commenting on education in pure ignorance and arrogance. The attack on teacher unions clearly demonstrate their ignorance. All teacher unions do is provide the teacher with DUE PROCESS. Teacher Unions DO NOT determine curriculum, budget, length of school year, or hire teachers. It is possible to fire bad teachers. Teachers do not want bad teachers in the system because they give all teachers a bad name.

  37. cclngthr says:

    sue1234,
    However, why are teachers who are disciplined still are in the classroom and are paid for not working when the investigative process is ongoing? If a teacher who’s conduct requires disciplinary action, this action is illegal under the state regulations. They should not be in the classroom, and should not be paid for not working?

    Currently, it takes too long to fire a bad teacher. Moulton was fired, but was reinstated due to errors made during the investigation. A case last year involving Michael Barnett involved a 10 month paid leave when it only should take a month to investigate and terminate him.

    I know I would not want a teacher with ANY disciplinary actions on their record to teach my kids.

  38. sue1234 says:

    CC well clearly you do not understand our american value as INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY.The union provides due process. It is up to the school district to investigate.. The school district decides the length of the process NOT THE TEACHER. It the administration makes the errors how can you blame the teacher? You have a case of misdirected anger. It is the school districts that prolong the process NOT the teacher. I have been a member of teacher unions for 30 years and have served as union officers. I have been involved in a number of cases where inappropriate behavior was alleged against a teacher. One case I was involved in the school district took 2 full years to investigate. Tell me how is this the teacher’s fault. Perhaps you should understand the entire process and all the entities involved before you run your mouth in abject ingorance.
    As a teacher, I would like to know about any kind of criminal or disciplianary actions against any parent of my students, afterall, I am mandated by law to report abuse and backgrounds on parents would certainly make it easier to keep an eye on the kids who are at risk, dont you think?

  39. cclngthr says:

    sue1234,
    I also am a teacher and have been in the system for 27 years. HOWEVER, I think it is up to OSPI Office of Professional Practices to do the investigation INSTEAD of individual school districts conducting their own investigation. That is the core problem right there. You claim that school districts have that responsibility. I don’t think they should. When a teacher has unprofessional conduct charges. Office of Professional Practices must do the investigation, not the school district. State law mandates that.

    Due process also requires a time limit on investigation and filing of charges. If the system does not file charges against a person within a stated amount of time, the charges cannot be filed. Having a district, who is not the agency to do an investigation that takes over 2 years, that is a huge problem, and a costly one.

  40. cclngthr says:

    A friend of mine is an administrator of the law firm who represents school districts in this area and regularly reminds me that teachers are doing things they should not. Case in point, they are working on a case of sexual abuse by a teacher, who moved from eastern WA to the Tacoma area and got a job here. That teacher was terminated, BUT was not terminated with the condition that the certificate should be suspended until the state concludes their investigation and decides what to do next.

    If a teacher appeals the ruling, they should be on unpaid leave.

  41. cclngthr says:

    With any investigation, those accused also have the right to a speedy trial/investigation. That is a 6th Amendment constitutional right, particularly in criminal cases. The accused also has a constitutional right to confront those who are accusing the person of misconduct where the burden of proof must be proven by those accusing the person of misconduct/crime. The proof must be within a standard of beyond a reasonable doubt in criminal cases, but civil cases do not have to be proven without a reasonable doubt; meaning the majority of the jury, or panel must agree to convict.

  42. I find it fascinating that an anonymous commenter can, with an apparently straight face, castigate another anonymous commenter for commenting anonymously.

    If I ever doubt my own sanity, I’ll use this as the line in the sand. If I don’t feel crazy enough to say that with a straight face, then I’ll know I’m just having a bad day.

  43. Roncella says:

    Bobcat1a, So What, Mary’s father was a very Conservative Republican, So What.

    Most Parents raise their children to be respectful, and try to instill values in them, along the way. Some children fail and commit crimes and don’t follow or respect the teachings they were given.

    Once the child is raised knowing right from wrong the rest is up to the child as he or she becomes an adult to be responsibile live their lives respectfully.

  44. elmerfudd says:

    I really don’t see what importance Mary Kay Letourneau’s fathers politics have. So he was a Republican? So what? Fred Phelps was an activist Democrat, not that that matters either. There are plenty of scoundrels and hypocrites in both parties.

  45. When I was in school we got touched! When we got out of line we bent over, grabbed our ankles and got “touched” by the business end of the paddle with holes drilled in it to reduce wind resistance, increase speed, and elevate the sound of “Wham!” when it hit our backsides! Then we got a note sent home to explain why we got whacked and we usually got whacked again for getting in trouble at school.

    Amazing thing is, it usually didn’t take more than once, and we understood discipline and behavior, and we didn’t turn into psychopathic freaks. In fact most of us turned into responsible members of society! Amazing stuff huh?

    This comment is probably getting away from the usual TNT comment board drivel and will most likely be removed as offensive, but oh well ladeedah ;)

  46. frankiethomas says:

    It’s January 4th – Have there really been no new letters to the editor since 12/30? (Magicaly whenever I post this type of comment a torrentof new lettters appear)

  47. JudasEscargot says:

    elmer – can you tell me where you got that Fred Phelps was an activist Democrat?

  48. Roll_On says:

    frankiethomas, thanks for posting today… ;-)

    Now we can start a whole new set of insults and attacks….

  49. JudasEscargot is First Lefty

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