Northwest NEWS

May 24, 1999

Local News

Kokanee teacher under investigation

by Marshall Haley, staff reporter

   The Northshore School District is asking parents of Kokanee Elementary School students to "err on the side of caution and respect," in a letter sent by the district on Monday, regarding charges of child molestation against a 48-year-old male teacher.

   "We have reminded people to be careful what they say, that rumors fuel fires, and to remember that people are innocent until proven guilty," said district spokesperson Dr. Pamela Steele. "We will have a team of psychologists at the school all week to talk with students. If parents have any additional information to give us, our letter tells them how to do that."

   The teacher was arrested last Friday morning amid allegations that as many as 10 fifth- and sixth-grade girls have reported being molested. He was arraigned and released on $15,000 bail Friday afternoon.

   A veteran of 22 years with Northshore, the teacher has taught the last five years at Kokanee, where he teaches a combined class of fifth- and sixth-grade students. He teaches in the district's Parents Active in Cooperative Education program, a family-based alternative class in which parents commit to 80 classroom hours a year.

   The district first learned of the accusations Friday morning from two phone calls, one from a disturbed parent, the other from a Kokanee teacher who said the jailed teacher's wife wanted to know how to get a substitute.

   "The police have not given me anything," said Steele. "It's really frustrating to get called by people asking about this and not being able to give them any facts. It makes us look like idiots."

   Calls to the Snohomish County sheriff's office for information on the case were not returned.