An administrative law judge upheld the 12-month suspension of East Valley P.E. teacher Michele Taylor’s teaching certificate following allegations of inappropriate contact with students.

In a decision issued August 21st, a Yakima judge ruled Michele Taylor could not return to the job for the 2012-2013 school year.  Taylor appealed the one-year suspension of her state teaching certificate imposed by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

"This is short of the termination that we requested," East Valley School District's Attorney Michael Patterson tells our news partner KIMA Action News "But it is at least a recognition that what she did was inappropriate and justified good disciplinary action."

During the appeals hearing in May and June, the state called student witnesses who testified about seeing text messages that gave the impression Taylor was flirting.  Taylor was charged with first degree sexual misconduct for allegedly having sex with a student back in 2009. Court Documents say she texted two students about having sex with them.  One of those students came forward saying Taylor had sex with him in a K-Mart parking lot.

A jury acquitted Taylor of all criminal charges in a 2010 trial but she still wasn't allowed back to work because the East Valley School District wanted her fired.

A hearing officer in 2010 ruled the school district didn't have enough evidence to fire her, but Washington State sought to suspend her teaching certificate anyway.  "There are concerns that were raised and we still have concerns but we will let the legal process play out," Patterson said.

Assistant Attorney General Anne Shaw said she's also happy with the judge's decision and is most happy that the judge got to hear testimony from students.

To get all sides, KIMA contacted Taylor and her attorney directly after the decision.
They both declined comment.  A spokesperson for OSPI said Michele Taylor has 10 days to file a petition for a judge to reconsider the case.  If she chooses not to file for reconsideration, then her one year suspension will begin 10 days following the ruling date.

According to court documents from the administrative judge, Taylor may have to complete training for issues of inappropriate interaction with students, and provide proof of that in order to have her teaching certificate reinstated.  She could even have to resubmit a new application.

Michele Taylor will remain on paid leave until the deadline to file the petition for reconsideration. Her attorney wouldn't comment on whether they plan to file.  If upheld a second time, Taylor would still have another 30 days to appeal for judicial review.

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