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Nov. 28, 2022

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Mountain View teacher resigns over sexually explicit emails

By , Columbian Education Reporter

A Mountain View High School teacher resigned last month after he allegedly exchanged sexually explicit emails with a student.

Jacob Sherman, a physics teacher at the Evergreen Public Schools campus, was placed on administrative leave with pay on May 22 after a student “brought forward inappropriate email exchanges between” themselves and Sherman, according to a letter the district sent to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Sherman submitted his resignation on May 30.

A human resources investigation does not suggest the student and Sherman were involved in a physical relationship, but emails suggested Sherman wanted to be, Superintendent Mike Merlino wrote in a letter to Catherine Slagle, director of the Office of Professional Practices at OSPI.

“He engaged in boundary invasion and grooming behaviors toward the student,” Merlino wrote.

Washington law requires that superintendents report to the Office of Professional Practices when a teacher has violated the state’s Code of Professional Conduct or lacks “good moral character” to be a teacher, including sexual advances.

When that office opens an investigation into allegations of misconduct against an educator, a red banner appears in the online certification file available to all districts reading: “Complaint being investigated, contact (the Office of Professional Practices).” If the teacher is formally reprimanded, suspended or has their license revoked by the office, that record follows the teacher forever in both statewide and national databases.

Sherman will receive full pay and benefits, including retirement contributions, through Aug. 31, according to a resignation and settlement agreement between the district, Sherman and the district’s teacher union, the Evergreen Education Association. Sherman will also receive an additional four months’ compensation, and his full health benefits, minus the portion he pays, through the end of the year. According to OSPI data, Sherman’s total salary is $66,884.

The district also agreed not to challenge any unemployment claims Sherman might file. In exchange, Sherman agreed to waive any potential lawsuit he might file against the school district.

Law enforcement agencies are not involved in the matter, the district’s chief human resource officer, Jenae Gomes, said by email.

Evergreen Public Schools has had a rash of staff involved in inappropriate relationships with students in recent years. The school district requires that new teachers and other staff members sit through a 35-minute sexual misconduct course developed by online-learning company Vector Solutions as part of its SafeSchools suite, a program used across the country.

Employees repeat that class on a three-year rotation. They must also undergo annual training with their building principals reviewing district policies, including the district’s boundary invasion policy. That standard, adopted in 2016, broadly instructs district staff not to “intrude on a student’s physical and emotional boundaries unless the intrusion is necessary to serve a demonstrated educational purpose.”

Columbian Education Reporter

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