Morton teacher returning to classroom after jail sentence



Posted on August 26, 2010 at 3:03 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 26 at 6:56 PM

MORTON, Wash. -  A Morton history teacher who was fired after spending 20 days in jail for inappropriately touching female students, will be back in school when classes resume next week.

56-year-old Michael Moulton is scheduled to be teaching history and a study skills class at Morton Junior/High School.

Moulton was accused of inappropriately touching four girls in 2008. Moulton has said the unwelcome touchings were pats meant as encouragement for good work.

Moulton was fired last year, but he got his job back after appealing the decision through a hearing officer.

Superintendent Tom Manke thought he was justified in firing Moulton after the teacher entered an Alford plea to criminal charges.

Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges they would likely lose the case in trial.

It is considered a guilty plea by the courts.

Superintendent Manke thought that plea made firing Moulton a "no brainer."

"I thought our case would even be stronger," said Manke, "But I guess it wasn't."

Manke said the hearing officer determined that firing Moulton was too severe of a punishment since Manke had already suspended Moulton for 12 days without pay prior to the jail sentence.

Manke said about one-third of Moulton's potential students this fall have opted out of his class and will take a supplemental course online.

The superintendent expects that number to increase as word of Moulton's return spreads across the small Lewis County community.