Story broke here April 17, 2014; story published in The Apple Leaf April 24, 2014.
Wenatchee School District’s Superintendent’s Office announced on April 17 that it will not appeal the Chelan County Superior Court decision to reinstate former PE teacher Ed Knaggs.
Wenatchee School Board met in an executive session April 16 to discuss the matter. Board member Jesus Hernandez motioned to appeal Superior Court Judge Lesley Allan’s decision, but that motion was not seconded.
“It was a difficult conversation to have considering the stakes that are so high,” Board President Laura Jaecks said. “We realized there are strong feelings on both sides.”
Jaecks is still grieving for the loss of the student at the center of this ongoing litigation.
“With the resolution of this case, it is the hope of the Board of Directors that our community can come together and begin the healing process as we take the necessary steps to ensure that such a tragedy does not occur again,” Superintendent Brian Flones said in a statement.
Director of Human Resources Lisa Turner said that even though Knaggs will be reinstated, that doesn’t mean he gets the exact position as when he was fired. However, the law and according to Knaggs’s attorney Quentin Batjer, Knaggs is to be reinstated to his former position.
The back wages will be from April 4, 2013, when a hearing officer affirmed the district’s decision to fire him until March 20, 2014 when the order was entered by the courts to reinstate Knaggs.
Discussions of placement for Knaggs will occur in the coming weeks, Turner said, with Knaggs, Flones, and the teacher’s union.
The district is also required to pay attorney fees of $227,300 as well as back wages, but Turner said that figure has still not been calculated.
Jaecks said that cost was a factor in deciding to not continue the litigation.
“We are relieved that it’s over,” Batjer said. Knaggs was not available for comment this morning.
Knaggs is currently placed on paid administrative leave until the next options are discussed.
Knaggs was fired in April 2012 as the teacher in charge when freshman Antonio Reyes drowned in the high school swimming pool.
“It’s a lesson for all of us,” Hernandez said.