Cleared Middleton teacher Andrew Harris returning to classroom - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Middleton teacher Andrew Harris returning to classroom Jan. 27

Posted: Updated: Jan 21, 2014 08:10 PM

MIDDLETON, Wisconsin (WKOW) -- The Middleton-Cross Plains school teacher fired for looking at explicit images on a work computer during school hours will return to the classroom.

Andrew Harris, who at the time of his dismissal was working as a seventh grade science teacher at Glacier Creek Middle School, will return to the district teaching the same grade level and subject at Kromrey Middle School.

His first day will be January 24, which is scheduled for professional development. Harris will begin teaching students January 27.

Harris's reinstatement comes after a costly and lengthy legal battle.

Harris appealed his 2010 firing and an arbitrator ruled in 2012 that the district should have instead suspended him for two weeks.

The school district appealed. The arbitrator's decision was upheld in both circuit and appellate court. The Wisconsin Supreme Court then earlier this month declined to take up the case, validating the ruling as final.
The district spent between $900-thousand and $1-million on the entire case.

"That's something hard for me to fathom, spending that kind of money," said Superintendent Don Johnson. "But the board of education believed it was doing the right thing."

Johnson said a memo was sent out Tuesday afternoon to all staff and parents detailing the deal regarding Harris's return to the district.

The reinstatement plan was finalized at Monday night's school board meeting. It was presented to Harris's union representatives Tuesday afternoon, and Johnson said Tuesday evening that Harris had accepted the terms. 

Johnson said he's aware that some parents will not want their children in Harris's classroom. But he said, while the district will "take requests," it's not likely they'll accommodate them.

"If we complied with one request we'd have to comply, potentially, with multiple ones," Johnson said.

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MIDDLETON (WKOW) -- Embattled teacher Harris will return to the classroom, but at a different school.

Middleton Education Association attorney Bill Haus confirmed to 27 News Tuesday afternoon that Harris will teach at Kromrey Middle School, after a the school district offered a plan to the teachers union to reinstate Harris.

Middleton Schools fired Harris from his job at Glacier Creek Middle School in 2010, when he was accused of looking at explicit material while at school. Several district employees were suspended for similar actions, but Harris was the only one fired.

An arbitrator ruled that Harris should be reinstated, and that decision was upheld by an appellate court before the Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to take the case.

Pete Zervakis is interviewing Middleton Superintendent Don Johnson and will have the district's response to the reinstatement of Harris tonight in 27 news at 6 and 10.

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