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Classroom abuse
caption: A still image of a student being thrown out of his classroom at Meany Middle School in Seattle. Moments earlier, the student's teacher punched him in the jaw. It wasn't the first time his teacher, James Johnson, was found to have harmed children.
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A still image of a student being thrown out of his classroom at Meany Middle School in Seattle. Moments earlier, the student's teacher punched him in the jaw. It wasn't the first time his teacher, James Johnson, was found to have harmed children.
Credit: Seattle Public Schools surveillance video still

Teachers removed from Seattle, Kent classrooms following KUOW investigation

The day after two investigative stories were published by KUOW, Seattle Public Schools and Kent School District pulled two teachers from the classroom.

In Kent, P.E. teacher Rafaela Kayryakoff has been reassigned to the district office to perform non-school-based duties. In Seattle, James Johnson, a math teacher at Washington Middle School, was placed on administrative leave.

READ: Seattle Schools knew these teachers abused kids — and let them keep teaching

READ: Kent teacher tweeted racist, bigoted messages and was allowed to stay in the district

Seattle Public Schools

Washington Middle School Principal Katrina Hunt sent a letter to parents in the wake of a KUOW story that outlined findings that Johnson had punched an eighth-grade boy in the jaw, and sexually harassed middle school girls.

In her letter, Hunt states that since the KUOW story was published, new allegations against Johnson have surfaced and he has been placed on leave.

The district will conduct a new investigation. Here is her letter:

Dear families,

As you are aware, KUOW story came out last night regarding a teacher at our school. Since that time, new allegations have been reported and the teacher is now on leave. The district will conduct a complete and fair investigation of these new complaints. We understand consistency is important in your child’s classroom. We are identifying a qualified substitute teacher in the classroom as quickly as possible. They, along with other existing staff, will work to maintain a quality environment and minimize disruption. We appreciate your understanding, cooperation, and concern. If you have any questions, please let me know.

Sincerely,

Katrina Hunt

Kent School District

Kent School District Superintendent Calvin Watts sent out a notice informing district staff that Kayryakoff was reassigned to duties outside of the classroom, following a report by KUOW on racist and bigoted tweets she wrote.

Dear Members of Team KSD,

On January 23 a local media outlet published an article regarding personnel matters involving one of our staff members. We have heard the concerns of the Panther Lake and Kent School District community.

While there are no new employee investigations beyond what has been shared by the media, a decision has been reached today seeking to address the impact of the information shared in the article on our school community. Rafaela Kayryakoff will be reassigned to a non-school based position beginning Monday, January 27, 2020.

This decision was made with the care and concern of all students, families and staff of the Panther Lake community in mind. We have arranged for a substitute PE teacher for the remainder of the school year. I can assure you that Principal Pogson, Assistant Principal Aulava and staff will take every step necessary to ensure a smooth transition over the upcoming days for our students and Panther Lake community. Our shared goal is for students to continue learning with as little interruption as possible.

In Kent School District we take any matter of concern voiced by students, families, and staff seriously. We are committed to successfully preparing all students for their futures. We are also committed to creating an environment where all students, families, staff, and community members know they are safe, respected and valued for their diverse life experiences, language, culture, values and beliefs. And, we will continue to identify and correct practices and policies that perpetuate achievement and opportunity gaps as well as institutional bias.

Finally, I remind all students, staff and family that all instances of suspected harassment, intimidation, and/or bullying should be reported to your school’s principal or assistant principal in any of the following ways: in person, over the phone or by email. You may also complete the official HIB Report Form, available on our website and submit it to the school’s main office.

Kind regards,

Dr. Calvin J. Watts