Ethics Data Online - Articles

"Other cases of the state dropping or dragging out investigations"
Christine Willmsen and Maureen O'Hagan, Seattle Times staff reporters
Sunday, December 14, 2003

David F. Spray
Dayton High School
Dayton School District

The football coach admitted he had hugged and kissed the team's 17-year-old manager and bought her flowers, a championship ring and a jacket.

Spray's conduct led then-Superintendent Steve Chestnut to conclude that the coach "has engaged in an inappropriate and exploitive relationship with a female high-school student," according to Chestnut's 1996 complaint to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI.) "My investigation revealed an inappropriate romantic-type of relationship."

Chestnut gave the OSPI the district's file on its investigation, including interviews with Spray, the girl and witnesses.

For three years, the OSPI did little with the complaint, records show. In 1999, it dismissed the complaint without explanation.

Before that, the district reached an agreement with Spray: Instead of firing him, it paid him $15,000 in 1996 to quit "based on what was best for the school district," Chestnut said.

" I made a mistake," Spray, 47, said. "It's something I'm not proud of. I wasn't trying to seduce her."

He is a physical-education teacher and assistant football coach at Pasco High School in southeastern Washington.


Robert D. Shaw
Ellensburg High School
Ellensburg School District

After a 14-year-old girl complained that the football coach put her head in his lap, caressed her lips and nuzzled her, Ellensburg passed the case on to the OSPI in 1996.

Records show the school was in the process of firing Shaw, 33, because of a history of touching female students inappropriately and making sexual comments, but he resigned.

Over the next five years, the OSPI conducted no interviews with students, teachers or Shaw, its files show, using district information instead.

Meanwhile, Shaw moved to Idaho, where he worked in two school districts from 1998 to 2001.
In July 2001, the OSPI suspended Shaw's teaching license for two years after he admitted "he engaged in inappropriate conversation and physical contact with a female student."

Though Shaw was not allowed to teach, Yelm High School hired him as a football coach and assistant boys basketball coach in 2001. He still works there.


Joseph C. Morrison
Kalles Junior High
Puyallup School District

A love note the football coach wrote to a seventh-grade girl was so alarming that Principal Pam Galloway immediately removed him from the classroom.

"It is so frustrating to see you and not be able to show how much I love you," Morrison wrote to the 13-year-old in January 2000.

The OSPI investigated him, obtaining statements from school officials over the next several months.

"I now have no doubt in my mind that Joe Morrison was grooming youngsters," Galloway stated.

"He seemed to focus on several girls and to keep them vying for his attention.

"He lacks the good moral character" to be a teacher.

The file contains few entries after that. In March 2002, the state dismissed the case when Morrison's teaching license expired. The OSPI never decided whether he was fit to teach.
He can apply for a new license in Washington or elsewhere.

The girl, now in high school, said he should have been barred from teaching. "If he goes back to teaching and there's another girl that he starts writing letters to and then it turns out to be more, then she gets hurt in a bigger way," she said.