Opinion

So how come we printed the teacher’s name?

If the South Kitsap community operated under the medeival rule whereby kings killed the messenger who brought them bad news, we’d get killed twice a week.

Our most recent execution would have come last Saturday, following the publication of a story about a teacher at South Kitsap High School who was dismissed for alleged sexual misconduct. It clearly wasn’t a happy story, but we felt we had a responsibility to print it anyway — much to the consternation of several of our readers.

Specifically, we were asked why the Independent chose to publish the name of the teacher in question when our competitors across Sinclair Inlet did not. Rest assured the decision wasn’t made lightly. It was something we debated for several days before coming to a conclusion.

Ultimately, we decided to name the teacher for several reasons. First, although no students were involved and no criminal charges were filed against the teacher, after reading the results of the school district’s investigation into the matter we decided there were significant safety issues involved.

Without going into graphic detail — of which the file had plenty — the teacher in question admits to having consensual encounters on school property. He is also accused of more than one non-consensual incident — a fact which, if true, we find extremely troubling.

Not that we’re assuming he’s guilty. As noted in Saturday’s story, the teacher — who has been on administrative leave since November, drawing his normal salary while the school district must also pay for a substitute — has exercised his right to challenge his dismissal. An independent hearing officer has been assigned to the case, but no date has been set for the hearing.

It could well be that the teacher will be exonerated of the more serious charges in that hearing. Even so, the school district believes he warrants firing just on the basis of the charges he’s already admitted to, and we agree. And that’s why we decided there was no point in withholding his name.

Even if he only did what he admits doing, that’s bad enough.

As someone recently said, it is the job of a newspaper to hold up a mirror to the community. Sometimes the reflection is flattering and sometimes it isn’t. This is one of the latter. It gives us no pleasure to be the messenger of stories like this, but we’re satisfied we did the right thing, which is the best kind of consolation.

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