The Republican Party of Wisconsin is hitting Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers for his decision three years ago not to revoke the license of a teacher who had watched pornography at school. Middleton Teacher Andrew Harris was fired in 2010 after he and other teachers looked at sexually explicit images at school. But an arbitrator ruled the school board inappropriately fired Harris, claiming he was treated more harshly than others caught doing the same thing. That allowed Harris to return to the classroom.
Governor Scott Walker then called on Evers, Superintendent of Public Instruction, to revoke Harris’ license. Evers said at the time that while Harris’ behavior was highly inappropriate, it did not meet the legal definition of immoral conduct as it was defined at the time of Harris’ behavior. The standard was changed the next year. The RPW ad is titled “Immoral Conduct:”
Middleton School Superintendent Don Johnson sent a letter to parents explaining why Harris was returning to the classroom. Johnson’s letter makes it clear the district’s hands were tied:
Dear parents and guardians:
We know there has been a lot of speculation since the State Supreme Court announced last week it would not hear the District’s appeal of its case against the Middleton Education Association. We wanted to wait to share information with you until it was appropriate.
District administrators met with the MEA and its attorney this afternoon and offered former Glacier Creek seventh-grade science teacher Andrew Harris a position teaching the same subject and grade at Kromrey Middle School. We believe this meets the arbitrator’s ruling that the District must offer him his former position or a substantially equivalent position.
I want to be very clear. The District has exhausted every legal recourse that was available. We are forging ahead as is required by the courts.
RPW spokesman Alec Zimmerman said in a statement that Evers had the legal authority to revoke Harris’ license:
“Madison bureaucrat Tony Evers failed to lead when hard-working Wisconsin families and their children needed him most,” said Alec Zimmerman, spokesman for the Republican Party of Wisconsin. “Despite pleas from parents and the school district – and a call for action from Governor Walker – Evers displayed weak leadership and refused to revoke the teacher’s license. How can Wisconsin families trust Tony Evers now?”