Northshore teacher’s license suspended for forgery on students’ IEPs

  • Written by Deborah Stone
The Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) recently disclosed that the Northshore School District successfully sought the resignation of East Ridge Elementary teacher Diane Friddle for forging required signatures on documents connected with individualized education programs or IEPs during the years of 2008 to 2011.

According to Leanna Albrecht, communications director for Northshore, the district discovered the issue while conducting a routine review in October 2011 and immediately launched an investigation.

Friddle subsequently admitted to district officials that she had faked the signatures of staff members or parents on at least six student IEPs.

“She forged signatures on the pages showing who attended meetings related to the student IEPs,” explains Albrecht. “It was a serious breach of professional ethics and we responded accordingly.”

Albrecht adds that the district did not ask for an explanation of Friddle’s actions, noting, “There is no justifiable reason.”

An IEP is a plan designed to meet the unique educational needs of a differently abled child, as defined by federal regulations and mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education.

The program is regarded as a blueprint and a tool to help teachers and other service providers understand the student’s disability and how it affects the learning process.

It is carefully developed and based on assessments, along with input from the student, his/her parents and school personnel.

All those involved in the process are required to sign the related documents at various junctures in the process, as well as whenever changes are made to the program.

Friddle, an Edmonds resident, worked at East Ridge for 10 years. According to the state-agreed order, annual evaluations of Friddle during her employment at East Ridge from 2002-03 to 2010-11 indicate that her performance was satisfactory and that administrators “praise her for her teaching abilities, her ability to work with staff and her rapport with and advocacy for students.”

Friddle was placed on administrative leave by the district on November 7, 2011, and on November 22, she signed a settlement agreement with Northshore to resign effective November 30.

Northshore then sent a letter to the OSPI alleging that Friddle had violated a section of the state administrative code of professional conduct.

OSPI proceeded to suspend the local woman’s teaching license for 45 days, beginning in early March 2012.

The agreed order was signed by Friddle and two state officials and posted to a web page where such disciplinary actions by the OSPI are made public.

For her license to be reinstated, Friddle will be required to submit a new application, including a character and fitness supplement, as well as have her fingerprints checked by both the FBI and the Washington State Patrol.

According to Albrecht, this is the first time an incident of this nature has occurred in the district.

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