On Monday, The Herald asked Everett School District Superintendent Carol Whitehead if the district used a secret surveillance device to monitor the classroom of teacher Kay Powers, a Cascade High School teacher who was fired for helping students publish an underground newspaper with school resources during school hours.
Whitehead was also asked if the district could identify an object noticed by several Cascade teachers on the ceiling of Powers’ classroom last spring and if expected testimony identifying it as surveillance equipment contributed to a settlement allowing Powers to return to teaching.
Whitehead issued the following statement:
“The Everett School District settled with Ms. Powers because it is not in the best interests of the District to continue litigation. If the hearing had gone forward, Ms. Powers had the right to appeal the hearing officer’s decision to Snohomish County Superior Court and then to the appellate courts.
In most cases where it is clear that a teacher has violated policy and administrative directives as many times as Ms. Powers, she would be advised to accept a settlement earlier rather than put her reputation at risk.
Since the beginning, Ms. Powers and her advisors have used the media to try her case. The media has presented this case as a freedom of speech issue although the evidence is clear Ms. Powers’ insubordinate behavior had nothing to do with freedom of speech.
Ms. Powers stated under oath in her deposition that she was advised to refuse to meet with the District’s investigator so that she could be interviewed about her personal conduct and her conduct with students.
As Superintendent, I have a fiduciary duty to be a good steward of the taxpayers’ dollars.
The settlement with Ms. Powers prohibits her from further pursuing litigation, in any form, against the District.
Your questions suggest Ms. Powers and her advisors are searching for means to continue threats of litigation around the agreement that has been signed.
The investigator for this case swore under oath in her deposition that she was unaware of any surveillance of Ms. Powers other than the monitoring of Ms. Powers’ use of the District’s computer network.
I have stated on more than one occasion as well as under oath I used only the report from the investigator with its attachments and the information I learned directly from David Whittemore and his mother, Cheryl Pence, when I decided to terminate Ms. Powers’ employment with the District.
I honor my agreements. It is my hope that Ms. Powers will return to work focused on teaching children and honor her signed settlement agreement and her employment contract.”