State suspends convicted Morton teacher's license

State suspends convicted Morton teacher's license
MORTON, Wash. -- The convicted teacher who has been at the center of parents' criticism and ire will not be able to teach in the state of Washington for at least three years.

Washington State Superintendent Randy Dorn on Wednesday said he has suspended the teaching license of Mick Moulton. Dorn added he chose to suspend the Morton Junior High School teacher's license instead of revoking it in order to guarantee Moulton is kept out of the classroom for at least three years.

"The investigation is done and the paperwork is being completed," Dorn said in a written statement. "The evidence clearly shows that Mr. Moulton violated our code of professional conduct. Because of the intense public interest in this matter, I wanted to make my decision known as soon as possible."

Moulton has 30 days to appeal the suspension.

Moulton, who has been convicted of inappropriately touching students, called in sick on Wednesday for the third straight day since classes resumed on Monday.

In his absence, dozens of parents pulled their kids from Moulton's classes, leaving a total of 22 students in all six of his class periods. At issue was Moulton's record.

In 1997, some female students said Moulton inappropriately touched them. Court document show more complaints were filed in 2005. Then came a discipline letter from the state followed by more complaints in 2008.

The 56-year-old was convicted of inappropriately touching four girls in 2008 and served 16 days in the Lewis County Jail. He was accused of touching girls on the back or shoulder. He said the contacts were pats meant as encouragement.

"There's an ethical and moral responsibility on the part of teachers, and I didn't believe he followed that," said Tom Manke, superintendent of Morton Junior High School.

Manke fired him. But even though Moulton was convicted of fourth-degree assault, a judge ruled he couldn't be fired. So he was allowed to return to school this school year.

Amid the mounting controversy, the state on Tuesday decided to step in to determine whether Moulton should be teaching. Dorn said he expected recommendations from an investigator within two weeks, then made the surprise announcement of the suspension just a day later.

Moulton has not been available for comment.