East Valley P.E. teacher collects $121,000 while off the job

East Valley P.E. teacher collects $121,000 while off the job »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Michele Taylor's now three-year public ordeal has accumulated a big tab that's come out of your taxpayer pockets.

The East Valley School District shelled out more than $120,000 to the P.E. Teacher since putting her on paid leave in June of 2009.

And, she still gets those paychecks.

"The law on the books currently that's been negotiated currently, been sought after by the unions that we are absolutely required to make those payments," said East Valley School District Attorney Mike Patterson.

KIMA learned Taylor was paid $13,000 in 2009. The next year she received a full year's salary of $39,300.

In 2011: more than $40,000. The increase came from a new union contract.

So far this year, Taylor's been paid $27,600, making the total $121,200 dollars.

Taylor could have gone back to work in 2010 after being acquitted of all criminal charges but the district didn't want her back. It tried to fire her.

When that failed, Taylor wound up with a one-year suspension that she continues to fight and the checks keep coming.

KIMA asked, "Do you feel it's a waste of taxpayer dollars?"

"I'm not going to buy into that," said Patterson. "I am going to say this. I believe the law needs to be changed."

Patterson wants to see paid leave limited to 30 days for cases involving suspected sexual misconduct.

The costs surrounding Taylor's case don't end with her suspension. We dug deeper and found her two-week trial in 2010 cost taxpayers almost $19,000.

On top of that, there's the money it took to put on her administrative hearing in May and June. So far, that's $140,000 of your money and counting.

To get all sides, KIMA contacted Michele Taylor and her attorney directly. They didn't want to comment for this story.

A spokesperson for the Office of Administrative Hearings in Olympia said they have yet to receive Taylor's request for reconsideration on her suspension.

KIMA learned OSPI filed its own request to clarify Taylor's violation. Friday is the deadline to file.