Two weeks after the Coeur d’Alene School District offered Paul Mather a cash settlement, former Superintendent Doug Cresswell wrote a letter saying he believed the stories of girls who claimed Mather molested them.
In a March 31 letter to the families of five girls who claimed they were sexually molested by their social studies teacher, Cresswell commended the courage it took to speak out. He said the district believed a jury would convict Mather, making it easier to fire him. A jury acquitted Mather of sexual abuse charges in January.
“We decided it would be in the best interests of the district and the girls to wait for the criminal trial because we believed Mather would be found guilty and we could quickly move through the discharge hearing …,” Cresswell wrote in the letter. “The not-guilty verdict at the criminal trial complicated things considerably.”
When the district was deciding whether to reinstate or discharge Mather after the trial, Cresswell said “there was never any time during that process that I did not believe the truth of what the girls were saying.”
Cresswell recommended to the school board that Mather be discharged, but when Mather’s attorney came forward with a proposal, Cresswell said his conclusion was that it would be best for the “school district, taxpayers, Mather and the girls” to negotiate a settlement instead.
The district and its insurance company paid Mather $47,000 in exchange for his resignation and promise not to sue.
That the district chose to put financial and legal concerns before what they believed was the truth still stings, one girl’s mother said. “It’s a good ol’ boy network where the public school system is more concerned about the teachers than they are about the children. I don’t know what it’s going to take the change that,” she said.
The parents are still awaiting a decision on the fate of Mather’s teaching certification by the Idaho Professional Standards Commission.
If certification is revoked, Mather will not be able to teach in Idaho’s schools. Revocation or suspension of a certificate triggers a report to all other 50 states. A reprimand is not reported.
, DataTimes MEMO: See related story under the headline: Accused teacher seeks work out of state
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