A former Shadle Park High School teacher’s future in education will soon be in the hands of the state.
Ryan Murphy resigned this spring while under investigation – a second time – on allegations that he crossed the line with students. Monday, Spokane Public Schools officials said they were in the process of forwarding the file to the state superintendent’s office.
“There is a responsibility by the district to continue an investigation until it’s done,” said Nathan Olson, a spokesman for the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. “A teacher can’t just hide behind a resignation.”
The state has an obligation to follow up to determine whether a teacher should keep his or her teaching credentials.
Murphy didn’t return a message seeking comment.
The English teacher and head girls track coach worked in the district for 11 years. He was investigated for repeatedly violating Spokane Public Schools’ “boundary invasion” policy with several female students.
According to district documents, Murphy asked a female student to ride alone with him to a sports event and told her that he loved her and she was his favorite; on another occasion, he reportedly told a female student, “love you.” Murphy allegedly commented on female students’ looks and attire, including saying “you look super hot” and “you should wear that color more often.”
He also accepted students as Facebook friends and used a picture of himself with three female students dressed for prom as his profile picture, which is against district policy.
Additionally, the female students said Murphy made them feel uncomfortable when he touched them on their backs or shoulders, the report says.
When confronted with the allegations, Murphy told the district investigator that “he didn’t recall” or that he was so comfortable with the students he didn’t think it was a problem, according to documents. Murphy admitted telling students he loved them as well as commenting on their attire, something he said he did with boys as well as girls. He also admitted to the Facebook activities.
Prior to this investigation, in 2005 Murphy let an unlicensed student drive his car from Shadle Park High School to the Skills Center in Hillyard. The student was involved in a crash while en route. The district and the state superintendent’s office reprimanded him for the incident, officials said.
At the conclusion of the latest investigation, Murphy told the district investigator he wanted to continue teaching. Documents show he asked if he could “apologize for the behavior” and if the district would “take word that I would change.”