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Spokane Public Schools knew of misconduct allegations against former teacher, records show

Michael Henry indicated on a disclosure form in his application that he had previously been put on leave at a previous job due to an investigation into misconduct.

Editor's Note: The above video is a report on SPS reviewing their background check process after their security chief resigned 16 days into his term due to allegations of domestic abuse.

SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Public Schools knew that a teacher hired at Shadle Park High School had a prior allegation of misconduct in another district when the teacher was hired, according to school records.

Former Shadle Park High School teacher Michael Henry was previously investigated for sexually harassing a coworker and creating a hostile work environment in the classroom at Mt. Spokane High School, records show.

Henry disclosed one of the misconduct allegations on an SPS disclosure form and Spokane Public Schools hired Henry anyway, according to records. A district spokesman said SPS didn't look further into the allegation at the time. Now, Henry is involved in an SPS investigation into an incident where a special education student was injured in an isolation room. 

Henry resigned from his position in June 2019.  

This is the third SPS employee this year to resign amid issues with past allegations and background check problems. 

In February, Former Ferris High School resource officer Shawn Audie resigned after records showed he committed four acts of misconduct as a deputy with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. In August, newly hired SPS security chief Santos Picacio Jr. resigned after court documents revealed allegations of physical and sexual abuse. 

Teacher discloses misconduct allegations to SPS in 2016

In 2016, Michael Henry applied and was hired for a job at SPS after stints at Mt. Spokane High School and Riverside School District in North Spokane County.

Henry marked on an employee history disclosure form that he had been placed on administrative leave a past job for allegations of misconduct, according to records.

"I was put on paid administrative leave on allegations of unprofessional behavior in May of 2015. No disciplinary action was taken," Henry wrote in a space provided for an explanation of his answer.

RELATED: Nine questions about Spokane Public Schools' background checks answered

Henry was placed on leave due to an investigation that started in 2015 while at Mt. Spokane High School amid allegations of harassment from a para-professional that worked in his classroom.

The para-professional ended up getting a court-approved harassment restraining order against Henry, who the court found had harassed the para-professional, according to court documents.

The para-professional claimed Henry texted her constantly after she told him she wanted to keep their relationship professional and that she was uncomfortable, which the Mead School District found to be true, according to records. The records said this created a hostile work environment.

The para-professional in question ended up voluntarily requesting a transfer to a position at Mead High School, which was granted, according to the records.

RELATED: Newest Spokane Public Schools security chief resigns after anonymous tip

According to records, Henry resigned from Mt. Spokane High School in 2015 amid this investigation. Records show he then worked briefly at the Riverside School District.

In 2016, Henry received a written reprimand for calling a student a “derogatory name” at the Riverside School District, records show.  

Despite these investigations, Henry was hired as a special education teacher at Shadle Park High School effective Aug. 30, 2016, according to records.

New allegations at Spokane Public Schools

Henry was placed on paid administrative leave at SPS effective Jan. 18, 2019, pending an investigation into a student who repeatedly hurt herself and was taken to the hospital. The student’s father alleged that Henry placed the student in isolation, that she was inappropriately restrained and that violations were improperly reported.

While in the isolation room, the student hit her head on a window, hit herself in the face and slammed her head into a door, records show.

SPS did not initially investigate past allegations

SPS Spokesperson Brian Coddington told KREM that the district only knew about the previous incidents and allegations to the extent Henry wrote on the application forms. 

Coddington said the district didn't pursue a deeper look into the allegations and previous conduct until contacted by the parent of the student involved in the Jan. 18, 2019 incident, which required records requests to his old districts.

These records requests were filed in January 2019, according to documents. The district also began investigating Henry for not being fully honest in his application documents.

Henry turned in his resignation effective June 13, 2019, and was not paid after Aug. 31.

“The District also acknowledges the school in question did not follow the protocols for reporting isolation for Student 1 and will initiate training for the special education staff on the appropriate use of isolation (including the limited means by which it is used where the student's behavior poses an imminent likelihood of serious harm), the proper reporting of incidents of isolation, and appropriate interventions to reduce the need for isolation,” an email about the incidents reads.

RELATED: Mistake on SCSO form showed former Ferris resource officer had no 'disqualifying misconduct'

RELATED: Former SPS security chief allegedly abused estranged wife, kicked family dog: docs

The following video is a full interview with SPS Spokesperson Brian Coddington about the district's decision to review its background check process.