The Meredith Powell Letter: “Obviously nothing physical or emotional ever happened between (the boy) and I, nor would it ever…”Posted: March 26, 2014 | |
Crossing the line online: When teacher-student exchanges become improper
Technology, social media provide easy pathway for inappropriate teacher-student relationships — underscored by the cases of two Pierce County educators charged recently with sexual misconduct
But writing an old-fashioned letter of apology about those texts takes considerably more time — and 10 pages of neatly lettered notebook paper.
“Obviously nothing physical or emotional ever happened between (the boy) and I, nor would it ever, but the fact that we ever text at all about non-school related things, or that we ever sent inappropriate messages, under joking pretenses or not, was completely unprofessional, inappropriate & wrong.”
— Former Lincoln High School Teacher Meredith Powell, to the girlfriend of one of her students
Such a letter, from former Lincoln High School teacher Meredith Powell to the girlfriend of one of her students, is contained in documents released by Tacoma Public Schools as part of its investigation into the 24-year-old math teacher’s alleged misconduct.
In it, Powell wrote she was sorry for behaving badly: “Obviously nothing physical or emotional ever happened between (the boy) and I, nor would it ever, but the fact that we ever text at all about non-school related things, or that we ever sent inappropriate messages, under joking pretenses or not, was completely unprofessional, inappropriate & wrong.”
Pierce County prosecutors allege Powell was doing far more than drunk texting with some of her male students.
Hers was one of two back-to-back cases in February in which Pierce County teachers were charged with sexual misconduct.
In both cases, technology didn’t directly cause the alleged inappropriate behavior but may have abetted it.
Court documents accuse Powell of misconduct with three boys, ages 15 to 17. The allegations range from kissing, groping and oral sex in her Lincoln classroom to sending out pictures of herself in the bathtub and in bed through an application called Snapchat, designed to deliver images that disappear from a recipient’s electronic device in seconds.
She pleaded not guilty last month to two counts of third-degree child rape and one count of communication with a minor for immoral purposes. She quit her job and surrendered her teaching license.
In the other case, 33-year-old former Curtis High School biology teacher Michael E. Allen pleaded not guilty to charges that stem from what prosecutors allege was a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old female student.
Court and University Place School District records point to a relationship fueled by text messages and cellphone calls. According to a report by the school district’s attorney, Allen logged 1,972 minutes connecting with the girl’s cellphone between Nov. 20 and Jan. 16, and they exchanged more than 2,436 text messages between Dec. 19 and Feb. 11.
Allen pleaded not guilty last month to five counts of sexual misconduct with a minor. He also resigned his position.
His misbehavior allegedly did not stop there, nor did his use of technology to secretly continue his relationship with the girl. Last week, Allen was charged with violating a court order to avoid contacting her.
Court documents say that after Allen was released on bail in February, he used a Twitter account to communicate with a friend of the girl. According to documents, the friend told detectives that Allen used her as an intermediary to give a pre-paid cellphone to the girl. The girl’s mother said she caught her daughter talking on a cellphone, and the girl admitted talking to Allen and meeting with him once, according to court records.
Terri Miller, who heads a Nevada-based national organization aimed at preventing teacher sexual misconduct, said technology is playing a growing role in such cases….Read more….