A state education review board Tuesday heard Morton Junior/Senior High School history teacher Michael Moulton's appeal of his suspension, with action to follow within the next month.
Moulton had appealed the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s decision to suspend his teaching certificate for three years, the maximum penalty the state’s top education agency can impose. The state’s decision came down in September as the result of "intense public interest in the case," the state agency said at the time.
OSPI spokesman Nathan Olson confirmed to The Chronicle that Moulton was in Olympia Tuesday for the hearing, but that Moulton had requested a closed proceeding, meaning only the people on the board of the Admissions and Professional Conduct Advisory Committee — more commonly referred to as APCAC — and Moulton himself would know what the day’s proceedings entailed. OSPI officials are not allowed into closed proceedings, Olson said.
Olson said APCAC hearings generally run a half-hour in length as the committee hears numerous cases throughout the day. As is standard procedure, once Moulton’s hearing was completed, a 30-day clock began ticking on the committee’s timeline to either uphold or reverse OSPI’s suspension of the embattled Morton teacher.
"We won’t know anything until APCAC lets us know what their decision is," Olson said. "It could be as early as Monday or as late as December 9."
If the APCAC board upholds the state’s suspension, Moulton has one last out: he can appeal once more before the process goes to an administrative law judge in 2011. If that judge were to uphold Moulton’s suspension, the three-year ban on him teaching in any classroom in Washington State would then go into effect with no further legal recourse Moulton would be able to take.
Moulton is on paid administrative leave.
Fifty-three findings of fact had been cited by the state as a reason the district was suspending his license, with behavior dating back to 1997 leading off a laundry list of run-ins with students in Morton — the most recent result of which was Moulton serving 16 of 20 days in the Lewis County Jail in late 2009, after entering an Alford plea on charges he assaulted four female students by inappropriately touching them.