Panel shortens suspension of teacher who touched girls

Panel shortens suspension of teacher who touched girls
Michael Moulton
SEATTLE - A state panel that rules on license suspensions for teachers has decreased the punishment for a Morton teacher accused of inappropriately touching girls.

The Admissions and Professional Conduct Advisory Committee decreased Michael Moulton's license suspension from three years to two to make his punishment consistent with previous suspensions of teachers in similar cases.

In September, Moulton's teaching license was suspended by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn after an investigation that found Moulton had violated Washington's code of professional conduct.

Dorn says he respects the appeal process and the committee's reasons for changing the suspension. And he wants to emphasize that the results are the same: Moulton has been taken out of the classroom and is unlikely to teach again.

Dozens of parents pulled their kids from Moulton's classes at Morton Junior High School at the start of the school year after he was convicted of inappropriately touching students.

In turn, Moulton called in sick for several days in a row before his suspension.

In 1997, some female students said Moulton inappropriately touched them. Court documents 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.

Tom Manke, superintendent of Morton Junior High School, fired Moulton, but a judge later ruled that he couldn't be fired. So he was allowed to return to school at the start of the school year.

Amid the mounting controversy, Dorn suspended Moulton for three years, and the suspension was reduced this week to two years.