Your Courts, Their Secrets
Embattled Skyline High principal steps down
Seattle Times Eastside bureau
Besieged Skyline High School Principal Ed Young resigned Thursday before a school-district investigation into his past conduct could be completed.
His resignation came two weeks after The Seattle Times, citing school and law-enforcement records, reported on previously undisclosed allegations that Young hadn't properly handled complaints about a teacher who touched students inappropriately. At the time, Young was an elementary principal in the Northshore School District.
In a statement released by the Issaquah School District, Young said it became clear as he visited classrooms that media focus on him had detracted from the school.
"I would never want to impede students' success," the statement quoted him as saying.
After Skyline students learned that Young had resigned, they stood and applauded at an assembly to show him their appreciation, said Jeff McGowan, an assistant principal.
"It's been a rough couple of weeks," McGowan said. "He was well-liked, and he's been a great leader and principal. Our staff and students were disappointed to see him go."
Issaquah School District — which includes Skyline High School in Sammamish — had ordered an investigation into whether Young responded appropriately to complaints about John Carl Leede, a former teacher Young supervised in the Northshore School District in the 1990s.
Because Young resigned, the Issaquah district decided to halt its investigation in order to save taxpayer dollars, said Sara Niegowski, district spokeswoman. The investigation centered around the safety of Skyline students and its confidence in Young as principal. "And essentially, through his resignation, those questions are answered," she said.
The district plans to release as much information as it can from the investigation, but the inquiry was far from complete, she said.
"It's cake batter, not a cake yet," Niegowski said.
The Times wrote about the case as part of a continuing investigation of improperly sealed court records.
The district is now looking for an interim principal, and in January will begin searching for a permanent replacement who will start in September, Niegowski said.
Young, whose annual salary was $106,000, will not receive a severance package or any further pay following his resignation, she said.
In 1999, Northshore formally reprimanded Young, saying his inadequate supervision had contributed to the district's failure to detect Leede's "touching issues" earlier.
The Issaquah district did not learn of this disciplinary action when it hired Young last year.
While at Northshore, Young had received at least nine complaints from teachers, staff members and parents about Leede touching students, according to school and law-enforcement records. Young did not discipline Leede or notify police or Child Protective Services, school records show.
Young left the Northshore School District in 2000 and worked as a principal in the Mukilteo School District before coming to Skyline.
On Thursday, some parents welcomed his resignation.
"I think he was wise to do that," said one mother whose daughter had been fondled by Leede. "In light of the way things have gone, it was probably best that he did resign."
The mother notified Young in 1996 of her daughter's complaints about Leede, according to school and law-enforcement records. Young, the mother said, responded by calling her daughter, then 10 years old, into his office, where he questioned her in front of Leede.
The Times is not naming the mother to protect her daughter's privacy.
Her family is one of three who filed a legal claim against the Northshore School District. The claim alleged that the district and four principals, including Young, failed to protect students from Leede. It was settled five years ago for $700,000, but a confidentiality agreement ordered documents destroyed and court records sealed.
Leede, now 55, was convicted in 2000 of seven misdemeanors, including six counts of assaulting students. He is a registered sex offender and lives in Seattle.
Skyline PTSA President Kara Neary said Young's resignation was unfortunate.
"His impact on the school was so positive, it's a sad thing," Neary said. "He was a very moral man, full of integrity. This has all taken an absolutely horrific toll on him."
The district's news release quoted Superintendent Janet Barry saying: "If there has been any silver lining, it's the conversation that's been sparked in our community about student safety. Our principals have been talking about it. Our parents have been talking about it. Our students have been talking about it.
"I sincerely hope we all understand that we are empowered to stop any kind of student abuse. Our policies and practices leave zero tolerance. Period."
Seattle Times staff reporter Ken Armstrong contributed to this report.
Rachel Tuinstra: 206-515-5637 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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