March 17, 1998 in Idaho

Bonner County School Official Faces Hearing A Complaint Was Filed In June 1996

By The Spokesman-Review

Bonner County school administrator Ed Sansom is under investigation by the state Professional Standards Commission for alleged unethical conduct.

Sansom was hired about three years ago as an area administrator charged with overseeing Sandpoint schools.

A complaint was filed against him in June 1996 by two teachers. They accused Sansom of favoritism and using a double standard while dealing with employees.

A panel of state officials has subpoenaed at least 18 witnesses, many of them teachers, to testify today about Sansom’s conduct.

The commission hearing is in the North Idaho College library and is open to the public. Sansom, however, may request the hearing be closed, state officials said.

A recommendation has already been issued that Sansom receive a letter of reprimand for his behavior, and that the commission issue any other punishment it deems “just,” according to an administrative complaint filed recently by the state.

“The executive committee of the Professional Standards Commission found that sufficient grounds exist to believe that (Sansom’s) conduct violated the code of ethics of the Idaho teaching profession and Idaho Code,” wrote Roger Hanshew, chief certification officer for the state Department of Education.

Hanshew suggested the reprimand after his own review of Sansom’s behavior.

Sansom was given the title of “area administrator” by controversial, former Superintendent Max Harrell.

One of Sansom’s first jobs was to try to demote Sandpoint High School Principal A.C. Woolnough to a teaching post. The move was unpopular with teachers and parents and spurred Woolnough to sue the district.

The case is still unresolved, but a judge found the district failed to properly follow its own policies and procedures when dealing with Woolnough. He remains principal.

During the controversy about Woolnough, another high school teacher, Larry Wolfe, complained about the behavior of two of his colleagues.

Wolfe later asked Sansom to file a complaint against the teachers, Bill Barlow and Tony Delewese, claiming they were unprofessional, according to Delewese.

Without investigating to find out if Wolfe’s complaint was justified, Sansom ordered Woolnough to take disciplinary action against the two teachers, according to the state’s complaint.

The two teachers filed a counter complaint of unprofessional conduct against Wolfe. Sansom made the teachers fill out forms and complete paperwork before processing their complaint. That was something he did not require Wolfe to do, state officials said.

Sansom “failed to conduct and oversee the investigation in a professional manner,” Hanshew wrote in his complaint against Sansom. “(He) failed to follow district complaint resolution policies.”

The commission is slated to hear testimony and review evidence for two days in Sansom’s case. The hearing officer will issue a formal written decision after the hearing. But that decision could take weeks or a month to complete, state officials said.

, DataTimes

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