YAKIMA -- Michele Taylor went into teaching because she enjoys working with kids.
She now hopes to return to East Valley High School to resume her career after being acquitted Tuesday of sexual misconduct and immoral communication charges involving allegations made by two of her students.
Taylor said last week during an interview at her Terrace Heights home that she remains committed to teaching despite an ordeal that her mother described as "pure hell" in the minutes after jurors returned their verdict in Yakima County Superior Court.
"I see the goodness in all the other kids. I don't want these two kids to ruin my outlook," Taylor said.
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The investigation by Yakima County Sheriff's detectives started in June 2009. Taylor was placed on administrative leave the same day authorities were notified of the initial report by the younger of the two students.
Despite the criminal acquittal, Taylor's job status remains in question. She has disputed the school's effort to fire her and now faces a September termination hearing. The hearing officer will decide whether her actions violated any school policies that would qualify for dismissal.
Taylor maintains that she did nothing inappropriate in trying to help the boys with personal and academic issues during conversations primarily held by cell phone text message.
Taylor and school officials disagree on whether a policy discouraging texting with students was mentioned during staff training before the 2008-09 school year.
Also looming is the prospect of a civil lawsuit by the boys' parents against the school district and Taylor.