Former School for Deaf teacher's credentials suspended

After years of complaints, state issues 30-day hold

By Jacques Von Lunen, Columbian staff writer

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Debbie Pietsch, a teacher who in December resigned from the Washington School for the Deaf, has had her teaching certificate suspended for 30 days by state education officials.

The school at North Grand and East Evergreen boulevards teaches deaf and hard-of-hearing students from across the state. It is a stand-alone state agency and not part of any Clark County school district.

But its teachers hold the same type of certificate as does any public school teacher in the state, which makes them subject to regulation by the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

That office on Tuesday suspended Pietsch's license to teach in Washington for 30 days, because of unprofessional conduct and lack of good moral character, according to documents published by OSPI. Pietsch has had a Washington teacher certificate since 2007. The suspension came after the school sent a complaint letter about Pietsch to OSPI in April 2011.

Pietsch twice in one day in October 2010 acted aggressively toward students, pushing one and grabbing the wrist of another, according to the OSPI report. She admitted the actions to her superiors at school and was suspended for one day without pay in November 2010.

Three months later, Pietsch made disparaging remarks about a school counselor in sign language to a student, including a remark about the counselor "molesting the student," according to the report. She was suspended for five days without pay for those remarks.

In October, a student admitted to Pietsch to being under the influence of marijuana. Other students told Pietsch that the student's mother allowed the use of the drug. Teachers are required to report drug use by children to school officials, and a parent's allowing drug use is considered child abuse or neglect, according to state law, which means it must be reported. Pietsch told the school's principal she suspected the student was on drugs at school, but did not mention the student's admitting to it or the comments of the other students.

Pietsch submitted her resignation in November, effective Dec. 2, 2011.

In January, she told state officials that she was ill in the days leading up to the remarks about the counselor, and that she was unaware of the requirement surrounding a student's drug use.

Pietsch can reapply for a certificate after Aug. 10. She also will have to fill out a questionnaire about her fitness for a teaching job.

Jacques Von Lunen: 360-735-4515; jacques.vonlunen@columbian.com;http://www.twitter.com/col_schools.