"We're always trying to watch out for your tax dollars and as a resident of our state, you've got to know about this story." - Dori Monson
After the Sunnyside School District in Eastern Washington determined that two of their teachers were using what they believed was inappropriate educational materials and encouraging vulgar, offensive discussions in class, the district paid the teachers $150,000 in a resignation settlement.
Curtis Campbell with the Sunnyside School District confirmed to KIRO Radio's Dori Monson that the total cost of getting the two teachers removed from the district, including costs outside the lump sums in the settlements, was $317,688.
"That factors in their pay while they're on administrative leave, the cost of the investigation, and then the cost of the settlements themselves," said Campbell.
It was October of last year when the issue was first brought to the school district's attention. Maria Preston and Sacha Mike were placed on administrative leave during an investigation, which, Campbell said, took time.
"Obviously, those teachers taught a lot of students over the years, so we had to be very thorough in making sure we did a full and complete investigation so we could get a grasp on exactly what was being used, when it was being used, by who it was being used, and which students were exposed to those materials," explained Campbell.
He said the investigation determined that the teachers were using inappropriate materials in class, that included sexually explicit content, and were inciting what the district deemed to be offensive conversations among students.
Campbell said the teacher's union disagreed with their desire to separate the teachers from the district and lawyers got involved.
At that point, the district's legal counsel advised them to settle.
"We determined that it was in the best interest of the district, the taxpayers, and our funds, to settle at what would be a reduced cost," said Campbell.
"We determined that the potential loss to us, if we would have lost litigation, which our legal counsel advised us would have had a high probability, would have been in the $600,000 to $750,000 range," said Campbell. "So that's why we found it prudent to settle for the $150,000."
Campbell said the system is meant to protect people, but sometimes it just doesn't work the way we might want it to.
"This was an example of the system working in a way we wish it didn't. But that's what we were faced with and that's how we concluded the issue," said Campbell.
"It's an unbelievable story," said Monson, "teachers who have no business being in the classroom teaching our kids and how much it costs to get rid of them."