Public School Is Just Like Prison Anyway

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Harold Wright Jr. is the principal of Baker Middle School in Tacoma, Washington. Also, he's a convicted rapist:

[Wright] was principal of Baker Middle School before July 12, when he was found guilty of third-degree rape, a felony. He remains principal today, because he has refused to give up his position as expected.

In the meantime, Wright, 36, continues to collect his $8,245-a-month salary, something he's been doing since February, when he was first charged. So far, the district appears to have paid him at least $45,000 for time he wasn't working.

There are some crimes that allow for immediate discharge of a school administrator in Washington. Rape just isn't one of them.

Elsewhere in reason: John Stossel explains how to fire an incompetent teacher.

Via Joanne Jacobs.

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  1. eight thousand dollars a month?

    wow.

  2. Some relevant details from TFA:

    Wright’s crime, however, involved the 2004 rape of a 19-year-old woman – slightly older than a minor. The jury found that, at a minimum, he helped a friend forcibly rape her.

    That’s still a terrible thing, but the jury did not find that he committed the rape himself.

  3. I think he should be sentenced to having a guy follow him around with a big sandwich board with the words “I’m with a rapist” and shout “Careful! Rapist coming through! Don’t get raped!”

    Like this.

  4. This is a weird case. In a better world, I would think that anyone convicted of sexual assault or a sex crime should be eligible for automatic termination from an education position. But with laws and prosecutors being what they are and the “Sex offender” and “sexual assault” charges getting thrown around the way they do, I think prefer extra due process — esp since the charges didn’t involve children.

    I also don’t know how exactly he helped a friend forcibly rape someone. Some more details would have been nice since that whole rape episode seems rather relevant. I don’t know how a “journalist” complains about this guy getting too much due process while not giving details of what it is he did to deserve losing that due process.

    In any case though, I would support suspending his pay while he goes through the review process to see if he should lose his job.

  5. All I can say is…thank goodness this fine example of humanity was drug tested before he got his +/- $100G/yr salary on the public nickle. Awesome.

  6. Yeah, I can’t fault the school district for taking some time to scrutinize the crime in question before deciding. Like ChicagoTom said, there are a lot of things that get counted as “sex crimes” these days.

    I want to know what they meant by “he helped a friend” with the crime. Given that they can take your car away if your friend has a joint on him, I want to know exactly what his involvement in this crime was. I mean, if he helped his friend hold the woman down or slipped the roofie into her drink, then yeah, fire his ass. OTOH, if he drove his friend and a drunk woman home from the bar, not knowing that the friend would take advantage of somebody incapable of consent, then I don’t think he should lose his job.

    I’d like to think that a well-meaning designated driver wouldn’t get convicted of a sex crime, but we live in an era where you can lose your car if a passenger has a joint. Without more details, this is a tough call.

  7. I think he should be sentenced to having a guy follow him around with a big sandwich board with the words “I’m with a rapist” and shout “Careful! Rapist coming through! Don’t get raped!”

    I could probably live with that if you wanted to pay me $8K per month to do nothing. At least for a while.

  8. [edwardan T]
    So this guy is like your hero Genarlow Wilson, right? Either you’re for sex offenders or you’re against them. He probably supports the doomed Ron Paul. DOOMED!
    [/edwardan T]

  9. Dooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooomed!

  10. Chicago Tom, Thoreau – come on! Just because there aren’t many details in what is clearly marked an *opinion* piece, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

    “Wright and Carter were accused of sexually assaulting the woman at the town house of a friend after meeting her and two of her friends at a Puyallup bar.

    The victim, now 23, attended Spanaway Lake High School while Wright worked there as an assistant principal before he joined the Tacoma School District in 2000.

    The woman testified she was held down and raped by at least one man, possibly two, in an upstairs bedroom. She couldn’t remember many specific details of the attack during her testimony but was adamant that she did not consent to sex and believed Wright was in the room at the time.

    Carter’s DNA was found inside her vagina during a sexual-assault exam later that day, and forensics technicians found DNA consistent with Wright’s on the woman’s breast area.

    Carter testified during the nearly three-week trial that he had consensual sex with the woman. Wright testified that he had no sexual contact with her whatsoever. He said his DNA might have gotten on her when he pushed her away from him as she danced close to him wearing only jeans and her bra.”

    Now there may be a miscarriage of justice, but it beggars belief that a School Board could do anything other than go with what the court/jury decided…

  11. I am glad some are expressing caution before condemning this guy. If he is guilty, he\’s evil and deserves no pay, but being convicted of a \”sex offense\” is not necessarily a guarantee of being guilty, especially in the education world.

    A teacher from my home town was recently won an appeal after being convicted on a baseless accusation (the case took over two years, and a vigilante small-town jury convicted him). Unfortunately he resigned from his position under extreme pressure from the school board and local law enforcement, but the consensus now is that he should have held on so he could collect back pay. His case really opened my eyes to how scary the judicial system can be for the accused.

  12. DavidS-

    Given the specifics of what he was accused of, and given that a jury found him guilty, it seems that firing was indeed the only logical course of action for the school board. Thank you for providing those important specifics.

  13. The dude gets paid $100k a year to babysit middle schoolers. You want to know what’s wrong with the school system? There’s your answer.

  14. Aren’t convicted sex offenders not allowed within 1000 feet of a school?

    I mean, at least let us have logic in our injustices.

  15. So, do principals* get paid twelve months a year, or only nine? I mean, seventy-five large is nothing to sneeze at, but that’s still a big difference.

    *Remember: when it’s a person, it’s spelled P-A-L, not P-L-E, because he’s your pal.

  16. I think prefer extra due process — esp since the charges didn’t involve children.

    It doesn’t matter, since he works with children I would want less, and perhaps no due process. You can’t be too cautious with all the predators out there. Also, 19 is under 21 so technically it is still a child.

  17. How many lawyers does it take to define three different degrees of rape?

  18. And here we go again!

    Take one case affecting public schools and the whole thing should be vindicated.

    How about applying for a job on the O’Reilly Factor. You’ve got everything they love: the stupid title, the catchy topic and the cheap inuendo.

  19. the jury did not find that he committed the rape himself.

    Well, that’s alright then. He just held her down while his buddy did her. Give him a fucking raise.

  20. I agree with Billy Bob Smith. Clearly, evidence should not be taken into account when there are children involved, however tangentially. We can’t have people confront their accusers, or wait for facts before summarily firing anyone who even fits the description of a sexual predator.

    This isn’t the time for worrying about ‘rights’! This is a time for panic.

  21. “…19 is under 21 so technically it is still a child.”

    I hope you wrote that as a joke, for if you did not you are either not a parent, surprisingly uninformed or stupid.

  22. If he was found guilty of third-degree rape, a felony, then I don’t understand why he can’t be fired. What is wrong with that school district that allows a convicted rapist to be a Principal of a school?

  23. If he was found guilty of third-degree rape, a felony, then I don’t understand why he can’t be fired.

    From TFA:

    But in Washington’s public schools – all public schools, not just Tacoma’s – even convictions for grave crimes do not permit administrators to simply fire the convicts. State law explicitly gives all educators the right to a potentially lengthy process of responses, hearings and appeals.

  24. The victim, now 23, attended Spanaway Lake High School while Wright worked there as an assistant principal

    It does currently have over 1400 students, but surely it seems a possibility that he knew this girl as a student. Whether she was two out of school or ten, that has to count for something in firing the fuckneck.

  25. I hope you wrote that as a joke, for if you did not you are either not a parent, surprisingly uninformed or stupid.

    Current neurological resarch suggests the brain develops until the 21st birthday, this is the reason for the drinking law.

  26. Anyone even accused of such an act should be immediatelly fired if in a job involving children. Also, only women should work in the schools because men are likely to be predators.

  27. If he was found guilty of a felony, why is he not in prison?

  28. Current neurological resarch suggests the brain develops until the 21st birthday, this is the reason for the drinking law.

    So you’re saying all 20 year old rapists and murderers should be tried as juveniles?

    Anyone even accused of such an act should be immediatelly fired if in a job involving children. Also, only women should work in the schools because men are likely to be predators.

    Seems like there have been a lot of female “predators” in the public schools lately. (Scare quotes included because I’m a firm believer in the traditional double standard).

    Is it just me, or have the regular trolls taken a double dose of stupid pills today?

  29. Scooby,

    No. It’s not just you.

  30. this brings to mind the Mr Show episode with the convicted rapist insurance salesman.

    i cant find that clip on youtube, so I’ll post this one instead, which is great, if irrelevant

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCfMgqnq2uo&mode=related&search=

  31. So you’re saying all 20 year old rapists and murderers should be tried as juveniles?

    No, you do an adult crime at any age, you get an adult punishemnt.

    Seems like there have been a lot of female “predators” in the public schools lately.

    Perhaps when kids get to school, they should be put into their individual padded room and educated by robots.

  32. “Current neurological resarch suggests the brain develops until the 21st birthday, this is the reason for the drinking law.”

    While the begining phrase maybe true, the 2nd phrase is not.

    The drinking laws have nothing to do with reaching adulthood. Commit a crime when you are 17 years and 364 days old and one day later commit the same crime, then see what the difference is.

  33. “…only women should work in the schools because men are likely to be predators.”

    BBS,

    Sorry. I now know you were only joking.

  34. this brings to mind the Mr Show episode with the convicted rapist insurance salesman.

    Wish I had thought of that.

  35. Current neurological resarch suggests the brain develops until the 21st birthday, this is the reason for the drinking law.

    Hey, Jane has a new handle!

  36. If principals can’t rape, only rapists will have principles.

  37. Anyone even accused of such an act should be immediatelly fired if in a job involving children.

    Billy Bob — so, if you’ve offended someone, they can get you fired by filing a false accusation with the police? That due process thingy is soooo quaint.

  38. Billy Bob touched me on the “special place.”

  39. …This segues into a sketch about a new program that “allows criminals to be productive members of society while serving out their sentences.”

    …The home of Larry Cleest (Bob) is shown, with signs outside proclaiming “Beware of Rapist.”

    Another man (Jay Johnston) follows him wherever he goes, shouting a warning, and wearing a sandwich board that says, “I’m with a rapist.”

    Larry is shown at his job, where he is making cold calls. “Hello, I’m Larry Cleest,” he tells potential clients, “I’m a rapist. Have you considered insurance?”

    “People don’t seem to be interested in insurance these days,” Larry complains, “I think the industry’s in a slump.”

  40. According to the article, Wright was convicted July 12. The ‘potentially’ lengthy due process will likely proceed quickly now that a jury has found him guilty. Prior to July 12, the man should have been considered innocent, and thus not deprived of his salary. The school removed him from contact with children, as it should have. I am not sure of details of Wright’s contract, but most principals are paid on approximately ten month contracts ending about two weeks after the end of the school year which would have ended before July 12. The ten months pay, however, is delivered in 12 equal payments. My guess is that Wright will receive the remainder of his pay, but he will be eliminated from the profession for good. I would be surprised if his initial due process extends beyond the next school board meeting. He may extend his due process by appealing, but he will no longer be employed or receive money.

  41. Thierry —

    Of course it’s not at all possible that if a principal convicted of raping (or participating in the rape of) a highschool student still has his job, it doesn’t indicate anything systemically bad about the setup of our education system.

  42. Billy Bob —

    I think the funniest line you’ve dropped so far has been:

    No, you do an adult crime at any age, you get an adult punishemnt.

  43. Perhaps when kids get to school, they should be put into their individual padded room and educated by robots.

    …and held in place by MAGNETS!

  44. Wright’s been convicted of rape. Past tense. He’s already had his due process and a jury of peers found him guilty. Any school district administration constrained by reasonable rules should be able to terminate his employment at this stage. Either the people in charge have been lax, or they are constrained by unreasonable rules.

  45. Not sure how it is in other states, but in Idaho notice of school board meetings must be published at least two weeks in advance. I am confident that any school board would rid themselves of this man at the earliest opportunity, but it does require board action. Give ’em a chance to act before blowing a fuse.

  46. Also, only women should work in the schools because men are likely to be predators.
    I don’t know if that’s quite safe enough. Maybe we should bring back the old rule that a woman can only teach until she gets married and learns the dirty stuff that children shouldn’t be exposed to . . . .

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