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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Teacher Appeals Dismissal In Sex Case Mead District Fired Man Over Incidents At Lewis And Clark

A teacher accused of having sexual relations with two students when he taught at Lewis and Clark High School is appealing a decision that upholds his dismissal by the Mead School District.

Shawn Wright last week appealed to Superior Court a hearing officer’s ruling that Mead was justified in firing him.

The Mead District fired Wright in July 1994 after a nine-month investigation into charges he had sex with one student, sexually exploited a second and served alcohol to minors - all while teaching in the Spokane School District.

“These cumulative acts of misconduct … constitute sufficient cause for the Mead School District to discharge Wright,” wrote Hearing Officer Jane Wilkinson in her decision issued last month.

Testimony from several students whose names were blacked out are included in Wilkinson’s decision.

One student described an affair with Wright that lasted from 1985 to 1987. According to the student, Wright told her he dreamed about the two being in “a hot tub drinking champagne or eating crab at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.”

That same student presented Wilkinson with notes Wright wrote in 1986 and 1987, including one that said the student “had reassured my libido, my feelings of manly value, and have jeopardized a wonderful relationship, my job, your future, my kids’ future.”

Wright didn’t deny writing the notes, but his former attorney argued they were misconstrued and taken out of context.

According to court documents filed last week, Wright, now acting as his own attorney, cited 13 reasons for appeal, including that the district failed to meet its burden of proof and the hearing officer’s conclusions weren’t supported by the findings.

Efforts to reach Wright, who always has denied the charges, were unsuccessful. His former attorney Bill Powell refused to say anything about the case.

While Wright argued that too much time had passed since the alleged incidents, Wilkinson noted in her decision that “while witnesses’s memories deteriorate and become distorted over time, documents do not.”

She added that “the intimate tenor of Wright’s writings and the expressions of love go far beyond what could be considered appropriate communications from a teacher to a high-school student.”

A second student testified that during her sophomore year in 1984, Wright told her that “he wanted to be in a dark, smoky room, drinking red wine and dancing close with her.”

The student also said Wright gave her a drink of whiskey and Coke while on a school-sponsored trip to the Tri-Cities. That same evening, she accompanied Wright to his motel room, where she gave him a back rub and he kissed her for several minutes before she pushed him away.

Mead placed Wright, a junior high choir teacher, on paid administrative leave in September 1993 after a former LC student, Laurie Brockmann, told school officials she and Wright had a long-standing sexual relationship while she was a student.

Wright, LC’s former choir director, left the Spokane district in 1987. He went to work for Mead in 1988.

Brockmann settled late last year with the Spokane district’s insurance company for an amount not made public.

Wright and the district’s insurance company, CIGNA Cos., are fighting in court The Spokesman-Review’s attempt to make the dollar amount of the settlement public.

Adelle Nore, who investigates complaints of sexual misconduct for the state superintendent of public instruction, said no decision has been made on whether Wright can keep his teaching certificate.

“We are aware of (Wilkinson’s) decision,” Nore said. “It’s still a pending investigation, but there should be a decision by the end of February.”

During the hearing before Wilkin son, Wright denied all charges of wrongdoing or questionable conduct. He admitted kissing one student, possibly on the lips, and testified that he “believed that was appropriate,” the decision states.

His attorney unsuccessfully argued that Mead had no right to fire Wright because the alleged incidents happened in a different district.

“Wright’s misconduct was serious,” Wilkinson wrote in her decision. “It is even more troubling when one considers his denial of any wrongdoing, despite the documentary and other proof.”

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