Ki-Be teacher under investigation

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 28, 2014 

BENTON CITY -- A Kiona-Benton City teacher continues to teach while under investigation for having questionable material on his work computer.

District and state education officials have not commented on what specifically was found on Ron Harris' computer. He returned to teaching health and fitness classes at Kiona-Benton City Middle School on Jan. 21 after briefly being placed on paid administrative leave during a preliminary investigation by the district.

Some parents told the Ki-Be school board Monday that they were concerned about Harris continuing to teach while he was being investigated.

District officials have turned the matter over to the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the district said in a release. It could be up to 18 months before the investigation is complete.

"In order to ensure that the staff member receives all of the protections to which they are entitled by law, and because our preliminary investigation did not disclose any ongoing threat to any students, the staff member has been returned to duty pending the outcome of the state's investigation," the district said in a statement. "The employee's workplace conduct will be carefully monitored."

The state's investigation of Harris remains open but his teaching certification remains valid during that process, said Kristen Jaudon, an OSPI spokeswoman.

"He may remain in a classroom if the school makes that determination," she said.

The Benton County Sheriff's Office is not investigating Harris for any criminal offense connected to the state investigation.

w Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @_tybeaver; Google+: +TyBeaverTCHerald

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