Kelso High School baseball coach and counselor Scot Meeker agreed to resign and take a $90,000 settlement payment Tuesday after an investigation concluded last week that he violated ethics standards and sexually harassed a staff member.
The settlement amount is equal to a year and a half of his district salary. The district’s liability insurance will not cover the payment, which means the money comes out of the district’s budget.
Meeker, 46, has denied any wrongdoing and questioned the accuracy of the investigation, but he said in a written statement that he resigned to do what was best for his family.
“The truth is that the public attacks and rumor-mongering in this small community have cast a long shadow on my desire to be an educator in Kelso or elsewhere,” Meeker wrote. “I have experienced enormous joy and sense of purpose by being a school counselor, and I know that I have helped countless students. … By settling with the district, rather than engage in a prolonged fight to keep a job that I may no longer want (even though it is a fight I believe I would have won), my family and I will be able to move on.”
Meeker announced his resignation to the district through his lawyer Tuesday, and the Kelso School Board unanimously approved the resignation and settlement Wednesday afternoon.
Meeker had been employed by the district since 1995. He had been baseball coach since 2002 but had been on paid administrative leave since April 15.
Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich said he was not surprised by Meeker’s resignation.
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“We believe this is a positive conclusion,” he said. “I think there will be quite a lot of people relieved to have this come to a closure. When you have a set of circumstances such as these, it’s stressful for the community.”
An investigation conducted by two Seattle lawyers interviewed 50 school staff, students and others. The investigation concluded that Meeker had violated standards of ethical counseling and professional boundaries with students. Among its highlights, it found that Meeker had sent a fellow teacher a picture of his genitals and that he asked a student, in the summer after her graduation, for nude photos of herself. Meeker denied requesting nude photos and said the photo to the teacher was to a consenting adult and was none of the district’s business.
Meeker’s Portland-based lawyer Margaret Olney said the size of the district’s settlement “reflects the challenges with the district’s case and a desire for all parties to move on.”
Asked whether he thought allegations against Meeker would mar the district’s image, Gelbrich said that would be up to individuals to determine.
“People will have a wide range of opinions,” he said.
Gelbrich said the district is looking for someone to fill Meeker’s counseling position, though it has already hired former assistant baseball coach and Kelso High teacher Tom D’Aboy as head coach.