Archive for Thursday, February 10, 2005

Teacher says pact backs him

February 10, 2005

Gregory Rawlings, the middle school science teacher who recently settled an employment dispute with the Lansing School District 469 and agreed to resign at the end of this school year, said one of the most important outcomes from the settlement was the district's rescinding his termination.

"It's important to remember that people are innocent until proven guilty," Rawlings said. "I hope people can see now that I am innocent of the charges."

Rawlings, who was a teacher in Lansing for more than 20 years and a tenured employee for 18, had his contract terminated in late November by the Lansing School Board. The board cited allegations of inappropriate interactions with female students, violation of the district's sexual harassment policy, insubordination and a long-standing and continuing pattern of demeaning students in class.

In the settlement agreement approved Feb. 1, the board agreed to pay Rawlings the remainder of his $45,815 salary through the end of the 2004-05 contract year, allow him to receive benefits, and pay him an additional $15,000. The board also rescinded its earlier termination of his employment.

Schools Superintendent Randal Bagby and School Board President Shelly Gowdy, citing the privacy of personnel matters, declined to comment on the rationale behind paying the additional $15,000.

Under the agreement, Rawlings instead will remain on administrative leave until the end of this year's contract, when the board will accept Rawlings' voluntary resignation.

He chose to end a due process procedure that could have resulted in his return to the classroom, saying in his resignation letter, "The board's current action has cast considerable doubt as to my motives, my integrity and my character. It is my belief that even a hearing officer's order returning me to work will not completely erase the pall of doubt that has been created in the minds of some of my present - and possibly future - students by these recent allegations."

Rawlings said he was first and foremost an educator and that he planned to continue teaching, though not in the Lansing district.

"I plan to continue teaching, but as to where or whether I'm going to teach middle school or college, I don't know," he said. "Once I have the settlement, that will give me an opportunity to consider my options."

Rawlings, a University of Kansas graduate, said he currently was certified to teach K-9 but was considering getting a secondary education certification.

"One thing this experience has taught me is that if life were compared to a journey up a mountain, there are three types of people who attempt the trip - quitters, campers and climbers," he said in his letter. "I have come to the realization that I have camped here long enough and that it is now time for me to continue my climb."

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