Gov. Walker weighs in on teacher Andrew Harris's reinstatement - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Parents upset with Andrew Harris reinstatement include Governor's staffer

Posted: Updated: Jan 28, 2014 7:13 PM

MIDDLETON (WKOW) -- A parent who wrote to Gov. Scott Walker last week, calling for his help in removing seventh grade science teacher Andrew Harris from the classroom, said she was pleased to see the Governor wrote to State Superintendent Tony Evers.

Harris was fired from the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District in 2010 after he and six other employees were found to have viewed explicit images on school computers.

Harris was the only one of the seven workers terminated by the school board.

An arbitrator ruled in 2012 Harris was wrongfully terminated and ordered him re-instated with back pay.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court this year declined to take up the case, validating the arbitrator's ruling.

But Kira Dott, whose son is enrolled in the Middleton-Cross Plains district, said she and other parents opposed to Harris's reinstatement will continue to protest.

Dott said she sent a letter to Governor Scott Walker last week asking him to revoke Harris's teaching license.

"He is just not the role model that our kids need," she said of Harris.

Dott wasn't the only parent to take his or her disagreement with the arbitrator's decision to the Governor. Gov. Scott Walker's deputy communications director, Julie Lund, previously voiced displeasure with Harris's reinstatement on social media.

"I blame a system that puts what's best for teachers waaaay in front of what's best for students," Lund posted on Facebook.

"There is someone who can do something - His name is Tony Evers and he works at DPI. He has so far 'declined' to act on calls to review the teacher's license," Lund posted.

Following complaints from Dott and Lund, the Governor wrote to Evers and asked him to begin revocation proceedings.

"The arbitration process afforded to Mr. Harris failed the school district and the students," Gov. Scott Walker wrote in the letter to Evers.

Walker's press secretary, Tom Evenson, acknowledged Lund brought her concerns regarding Harris to the governor's attention but said that was not the reason for the governor's letter. Evenson said the governor was prompted to act by another concerned parent.

A spokesperson for the state's Department of Public Instruction declined to discuss the Harris case on Tuesday, saying it remains under review.

But defense attorney Jeff Scott Olson, who is not affiliated with the Harris proceedings, said he doesn't think it's likely Evers will seek to strip Harris of his teaching credentials.

"I think the DPI would have a huge discrimination problem on its hands if it revokes Mr. Harris's license but doesn't revoke the licenses of the other people the arbitrator found had engaged in comparably serious conduct," Olson said.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- In a letter sent to State Superintendent Tony Evers, Governor Scott Walker weighs in on the Department of Public Instruction's ongoing investigation of a teacher with the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District.

The Governor, after hearing from concerned parents, is asking Evers to act efficiently in his investigation into the actions of Andrew Harris and to initiate revocation proceedings.  "The arbitration process afforded to Mr. Harris failed the school district and the students."  Walker also says it has taken a financial and emotional toll on the district.

Click here to read the letter.

DPI spokesperson Patrick Gasper said it was not appropriate to comment on the Harris situation, which he said remains under investigation.

Gasper also said the DPI had not yet received the Governor's letter.

Walker spokesperson Tom Evenson said his office delivered the letter to DPI workers "before we sent it to the press."

Perry Hibner, a spokesperson for the Middleton-Cross Plains School District, declined to comment on the Governor's letter.

"We just want to see how it plays out," he said.

Hibner added the district had previously contacted the DPI in 2010 and asked it to review the Harris case.

 

 

 

 

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