Teaching suspension: East Valley considers firing Michele Taylor

Teaching suspension: East Valley considers firing Michele Taylor
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Another turn in Michele Taylor's battle to keep her teaching job in East Valley. KIMA learned despite Taylor’s pending appeal of her teaching suspension, the East Valley School District is once again considering firing the P.E. teacher because she is no longer certified.

It seems the assumption has been that she would be able to walk right back on the job if her suspension were overturned, but her attorney said that's never been guaranteed.

"This idea that she would automatically return, I don't believe, your honor, is correct. I think that East Valley has the option of not bringing her back,” said Taylor’s attorney Joe Evans.

It's an option East Valley administrators are considering.

The school district's attorney said the initial ruling to uphold Taylor's suspension means she technically doesn't have a teaching certificate.

A hearing officer previously ruled Taylor could not be terminated but without a certificate it's now an option.

KIMA asked, "Is the school district currently moving forward with terminating Michele Taylor?

"We're weighing our options at this particular point in time,” said East Valley School District attorney Mike Patterson. "I think we're always concerned with using public funds for somebody that, a, no longer has a teaching certificate and, b, is not performing the job at all."

Taylor's lawyer wants her suspension frozen during the appeal to keep her from getting fired.

Freezing the suspension would mean Taylor gets paid until a decision of her appeal is made.

"The state is not going to lose salary, lose a position, lose the opportunity that Michele Taylor would lose if the stay was not granted,” said Evans.

The state argues the district would have to bring Taylor back if her suspension was overturned because her certificate would be restored.

The judge wants a statement from the district about its plans if that happens before deciding whether to freeze the suspension.

The state says it would need about a week to get a statement from the school district. Another hearing will be held in two weeks.

An earlier attempt to fire Taylor was rejected by an arbitrator.

A Yakima administrative judge ruled Michele Taylor cannot teach for the 2012-2013 school year back in August.

That decision upheld the East Valley P.E. Teacher's one-year suspension by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The ruling took into consideration more than two weeks of testimony from Taylor's appeal in May and June.

The state called student witnesses who testified about seeing text messages that gave the impression Taylor was flirting.

Court Documents say she sent inappropriate text messages to two students.

One of those students came forward saying Taylor had sex with him in a K-Mart parking lot.

Police investigated that claim and charged Taylor with first degree sexual misconduct.

A jury acquitted her of all criminal charges in 2010.