June 25, 2009 in Washington Voices

Documents explain firing of custodian

Students witnessed alleged misconduct
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Greenacres Middle School custodian Rick Keays was fired in May after two students reported that they saw him masturbating in a janitor’s closet at the school, according to documents released Friday by the Central Valley School District.

Documents show that two female seventh-grade students told school administrators they were playing around in the hall after basketball practice on Feb. 19 and ran inside the open door of a janitor’s closet and saw Keays. The two said they ran away quickly as Keays shut the door. Within minutes they told several friends they had seen Keays masturbating. The parents of one of the girls reported the incident to the school.

Keays was placed on administrative leave on Feb. 23.

He denied the allegation and told school district representatives that he may have been reading a book, the documents say.

The school district interviewed Keays and the students during its investigation, and viewed video from a camera in the hallway, the documents say.

Keays was fired during a school board meeting on May 11. The board held an executive session before the regular meeting to discuss “complaints or charges brought against a public employee.” During the board meeting a “recommendation from administration” was added to the consent agenda, which was approved with no discussion. The recommendation was to fire Keays.

Anthony Walters, field representative for the Public School Employees of Washington, said Keays has filed a grievance objecting to his termination. “Mr. Keays completely denies all allegations and we expect a complete exoneration of any misconduct,” he said. “We are moving toward arbitration to resolve the issue.”

Central Valley Superintendent Ben Small said he could not comment. “There are due process pieces that he has available to him,” he said. “It’s still active.”

The district released the documents in response to a public records request made on May 12.


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