Teachers with revoked licenses find work at Oregon colleges

Two teachers in Oregon are among more than 100 nationwide who lost their licenses but later got other teaching jobs.

Tammy Kinney, 51, and Russell Namitz, 42, lost their ability to teach in Oregon K-12 schools after being investigated for inappropriate behavior. Kinney kissed a male student; Namitz texted sexually explicit messages to a minor female “mat girl” for an opposing school’s wrestling team.

But both found work teaching at community colleges, Kinney at Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario and Namitz at Rogue Community College in Grants Pass.

Their cases were part of a year-long USA TODAY NETWORK investigation that found more than 100 similar cases across the country.

More: Former teacher resigns after sexual misconduct

Higher education was a common destination for teachers with revoked or suspended licenses. One in five of the 100 teachers in the NETWORK investigation went on to find employment at community colleges and universities.

Many of those teachers went on to not only work with children and teens, some continued their patterns of sexual misconduct and abuse.

Oregon law requires the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission to circulate a list of all teachers and administrators whose licenses have been suspended, revoked or who have been reprimanded or placed on probation. The list is online, available to the public and details the circumstances surrounding their alleged wrongdoings.

Before Congress passed a law in 2015 requiring each state to pass regulation to prevent schools from "passing the trash" — agreeing to withhold information about teacher sexual misconduct in exchange for their peaceful resignation — Oregon was one of three states with such laws already in place.

Both Kinney and Namitz' licensure suspension reports were publicly posted, but neither community college they ended up working for checked before hiring them.

Kinney, 51, has taught in Oregon since 1989. She worked as an art teacher in the Ontario School District in eastern Oregon until 2010.

In 2008, Oregon officials say Kinney kissed a male student in her classroom and voluntarily reported the incident two days later. She said the student approached her seven days after the first kiss, embraced her and kissed her against her will.

However, officials determined Kinney lied to administrators and police about the details, which were contradicted by security camera footage and the student's testimony.

In 2010, licensing officials held a hearing and determined Kinney acted with gross neglect of duty and revoked her ability to apply for a teaching license.

Now, Kinney teaches design and contemporary drawing at Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario about 60 miles from Boise. Treasure Valley accepts juniors and seniors in high school to attend its classes.

When reached, Kinney said her decision to leave the public school district and “the situation was a rough and painful one.” She declined to answer questions about her current employment. Administrators at Treasure Valley declined to answer questions about Kinney beyond confirming she has been continuously employed since 2009.

“TVCC does not routinely conduct employment background checks,” Abby Lee, a school spokeswoman, wrote in an email.

Wrestling coach Namitz taught biology, oceanography, and ornithology at Marshfield High School in Coos Bay for nine years.

Namitz resigned in April 2012 following complaints and an investigation into his interactions with a minor female “mat girl” for an opposing school’s wrestling team.

According to an investigation by the education officials, Namitz repeatedly texted and exchanged explicit Facebook messages with the girl. The messages include profanity and references to various sex acts, including masturbation and oral sex.

In one exchange, Namitz gave the girl directions to the hotel he was staying at for a wrestling meet and later texted about teachers having sex with students.

Namitz refused to comply with interview and document gathering efforts by Oregon officials before his resignation.

Officials determined Namitz committed acts of “gross neglect of duty” from 2010 to 2012. They revoked his right to apply for a license in the state.

Namitz found work as part-time science instructor with Rogue Community College in southern Oregon. As with many community colleges across the country, Rogue offers classes for juniors and seniors in high school.

When reached, Namitz wrote in an email he had no interest in "dredging up the past” and said “he would explore civil matters if possible” if his name appeared in this report.

Rogue officials said Namitz did not disclose his license revocation prior to his employment.

Rogue performed a pre-employment screening, criminal background check and reference checks of Namitz, said Grant Walker, a spokesman for the college. Those checks did not reveal any problems.

“It is the standard practice of colleges to not require K-12 licensure of instructors in order to teach at the college level," Walker told USA TODAY. "For this reason, licensure of candidates, including Mr. Namitz, is not checked."

He said Rogue students are regularly given the opportunity to give anonymous feedback about their instructors.

"RCC cares about the safety of all of its students, and we aggressively investigate any reports of harassment or abuse under Title IX or other applicable college policies," Walker said.

Namitz taught biology and chemistry until the end of the fall 2016 term. On Thursday, Walker said Namitz no longer was employed with Rogue Community College.

Neither Namitz nor Kinney faced criminal prosecution for their misconduct.

Email wmwoodwort@statesmanjournal.com, call 503-399-6884 or follow on Twitter @wmwoodworth

USA Today reporter Nick Penzenstadler contributed to this article

KGW


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