Tacoma kindergarten teacher in trouble quits

A 39-year-old Tacoma teacher has agreed to resign from his job and surrender his teaching certificate, following accusations last fall that he grabbed a kindergarten student and pushed her to the ground.

A document signed by former Lyon Elementary School teacher Michael Barnett, district Superintendent Art Jarvis and Tacoma teachers union representative Lynn Macdonald states that Barnett will resign Aug. 31.

In a letter dated Thursday, Jarvis also notified state education officials that Barnett would give up his teaching certificate. Jarvis said in his letter that Barnett had not complied with state regulations in his supervision of students and that he may “lack the character or fitness to be a teacher.”

Neither Barnett nor his attorney could be reached for comment.

Barnett has been on paid administrative leave since Nov. 5, earning about $329 per work day, based on his annual salary of $59,689.

A parent complained to the school district last fall, which led the district to contact Tacoma police. Police investigated and turned information over to prosecutors in December. No charges were filed.

The allegations weren’t the first to surface against the kindergarten teacher. In March 2009, Barnett signed an agreement with the school district pledging to avoid using physical means to redirect or discipline students unless a student’s safety was at risk or he was defending himself. The same agreement also said Barnett would be suspended for three days without pay and referred him to the school district’s Employee Assistance Program.

The 2009 agreement stemmed from a series of incidents that occurred in 2008. The district concluded Barnett was unnecessarily forceful with students, demeaned a special needs student, required an excessive level of supervision, had been unprofessional in his conduct and used poor judgment.

Barnett was hired by Tacoma Public Schools in 2000. Prior to moving to Lyon Elementary in 2008, he taught at Mann and Point Defiance elementary schools.