Touchet rallies to support of teacher

Speakers generally were critical of the board's and the administration's lack of leadership.

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TOUCHET -- Community members, including high school students and parents, jammed the school library Thursday night to voice their concerns about district leadership and to express their support for teacher Gary Dorman.

Dorman, who has taught at the district for a number of years, was recently reprimanded by Principal Elissa Tinder for allegedly inappropriately touching a female student.

Dorman, who teaches vocational classes, is also head football coach and head softball coach.

The incident, which resulted in four letters being placed in Dorman's file, occurred in his classroom on a recent Friday. At the request of a softball player Dorman was kneading a knotted muscle in her shoulder when Tinder came into the classroom, according to Touchet Education Association President Cathy Plucker. There were other students in the classroom at the time.

Tinder had a conversation with Dorman while he continued to rub the student's shoulder. Later in the day, Tinder asked Dorman to stop by her office first thing Monday.

Monday she told him he would be given a letter of warning, and Thursday of that week he received four letters of warning that will remain in his personnel file until three years after he retires, Plucker said after the meeting.

With the crowd of over 100 people spilling into the hallway, board Chair Darren Goble opened the first 15 minutes of the meeting to public comment.

Speakers generally were critical of the board's and the administration's lack of leadership and were supportive of Dorman.

Parent Maryanne Frazier said she has had 12 kids in Touchet School. "I have never seen my kids so upset. He's like a dad. We need people like that."

Robert Reed told the board he has been a criminal investigator, and his last seven years specialized in juvenile sex crimes. "You'd better just wake up and take hold of the reins," Reed told the board.

Plucker told the board the Touchet Education Association met April 14 and 100 percent of the membership voted they have no confidence in Elissa Tinder, attorney Ken Rice and Superintendent Dan McDonald.

"It's time for this board to make changes in district leadership," Plucker said.

Although he has not formally resigned, McDonald announced last month he has accepted a superintendent position in Soap Lake.

Before the meeting, a packet was distributed showing legal bills from Rice to the district between July 13, 2009, and Jan. 31, 2010, totaling $54,713. Rice's fee is $175 per hour.

Copies of the bills indicate Rice has represented the district in bargaining, mediation, an employee grievance as well as other issues. He has regularly attended board meetings and executive sessions.

When the board resumed regular agenda items, McDonald reported the district presently has a $85,000 deficit. This is due to cash flow as taxes for are not collected until the end of April.

"This is our tough time," he said.

Carrie Chicken can be reached at cec@innw.net or 522-5289.

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