Collaboration in Civic Spheres

After Kennewick teacher’s series of sexual emails: a salary hike, retirement, then a state reprimand

by July 31st, 2012

A teacher at Kamiakin High School in the Kennewick, Wash. school district is finally getting a penalty from the state for using his school email account to receive, view and forward pictures of nude and partially nude women; and for using it to receive and view images of sexually explicit conduct. Among the classes he taught was “principles of technology.” One individual to whom he forwarded sexual content was the district’s Maintenance and Operations Supervisor Ken Smith. But the 45-day teaching certificate suspension conditionally accepted last week by Emil J. “Jerry” Carlson in an agreed order with the state’s Office of the Superintendent of Pubic Instruction comes after Carlson reaped an $11,000 annual increase in pay and benefits while the district knew of his actions; and finally, after his recent retirement noted by the Tri-City Herald. The state disciplinary action against him also comes a full 32 months after the state was informed of the problems by the Kennewick district. No students were involved.

Carlson was the 2004 Educator of the Year honored by the Washington Industrial Technology Education Association. A Kamiakin High School newsletter from 2008 lists Carlson as the head there of the vocational education department. The Fall 2011 career and technical education directory from the Tri-Cities Area Educatioal Cooperative reveals that Carlson taught drafting, Computer Aided Design (CAD) and “principles of technology.”

Public Data Ferret’s WA local+education+ethics archive

The agreed order signed last week by Carlson and his attorney says in August of 2008 and 2009 Carlson reviewed and signed his acceptance of a district email and computer user agreement forbidding access to sexual content; but that he violated the policy anyway during the 2008-2009 school year, then the summer of 2009, and the 2009-2010 school year.

This resulted in a district reprimand to him late November 2009, and letter of complaint from the district to the Washington state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in early December of that year, followed with an interview of Carlson by OSPI’s Office of Professional Practices in August 2011, and OPP’s receipt of a signed statement from him in September 2011. This ultimately led to last week’s signed agreement, 32 months after the district notified the state.

Public Data Ferret’s King County local+education+ethics archive

As the case against him was slowly unfolding, Carlson’s annual combined salary and benefits rose from $66,083 in the 2009-2010 school year to $77,148 in the 2010-2011 year, according to Washington state teacher salary databases. His salary and benefits declined to $61,783 in the 2011-2012 school year, as his case with the state moved closer to resolution and his career with the school district drew to a close.

Carlson has 30 days from his July 24th signing of the agreed order to reverse course and challenge the planned certificate suspension, otherwise it then becomes effective. He could get it reinstated after the suspension expires, but would have to apply anew to the state.

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