Beloved Teacher Belatedly Returns to Garfield Choir

After nearly a year of legal wrangling, Carol Burton is back with her students.

On Monday, Garfield choir teacher Carol Burton will be teaching choir at Garfield High, for the first time in almost a year, according to her lawyer Kevin Peck.

“We are proud to announce that pursuant to a resolution with the Seattle School District Seattle Public Schools teacher, Ms. Carol Burton has been reinstated to start back at Garfield High School as the Choir teacer immediately,” Peck wrote in an email to local media last night. “We are extememly happy Carol Burton will immediately be back teaching choir at Garfield High School again.”

Burton was fired by Seattle Public Schools superintendent Larry Nyland last year because she violated district policies (consuming small amounts of alcohol and not enforcing gender segregation and curfews) on a field trip on which female students were groped by a male student. The student who groped them had been previously expelled from a private school for similar transgressions. Despite contractual obligations and state law to the contrary, the district did not inform Burton or Garfield of this fact before the field trip. Over the past none months, Burton has fought to overturn her termination, with the support of many students and their parents. At the end of April, she won: the hearing examiner did find that Burton’s “misconduct was significant” but not terminable, and ordered her reinstatement.

As we reported earlier this month, Seattle Public Schools seemed to ignore that order, keeping her on administrative leave for weeks after the ruling. Following the hearing examiner’s ruling, the district released a statement saying it was “disappointed” and “will continue to review the findings to determine next steps.” Asked about the legality of continuing to keep Burton on leave, district spokesperson Stacy Howard replied, “We are not going to talk about details of why somebody is on leave because it’s a personnel matter.”

One group that’s sure to applaud Burton’s return is her students, who have been leading the choir program in her absence. “I have been teaching the classes since I feel somewhat responsible for the program, and because I can’t stand to see students who love music lose the opportunity to experience it,” student Julia Furukawa told us earlier this month.

Portions of this story have been lifted from our prior coverage here and here.

More in News & Comment

Protestors gather at SeaTac’s Families Belong Together rally. Photo by Alex Garland
Seattle’s Separated Children

A local non-profit houses several immigrant youths who were separated from their parents at the border. But for how long?

Katrina Johnson, Charleena Lyles’ cousin, speaks at a press conference for De-Escalate Washington’s I-940 on July 6, 2017. Photo by Sara Bernard
Communities of Color Respond to Police Chief Best’s Nomination

Although its a mixed bag for some, the families affected by police shootings say she’s the best one for the job.

While King County Metro has been testing out several trial electric buses since since 2016, the agency aims to have a fully electric bus fleet by 2040. Photo by SounderBruce/Flickr
King County Rolls on With Its Electric Bus Fleet Plans

With an overhaul set by 2040, a new report shows the economic and health benefits of going electric.

Nikkita Oliver speaks at a July 17 No New Youth Jail press conference in front of the construction site of the King County Youth Detention Center. Photo by Josh Kelety
King County Youth Detention Center Moves Forward Despite Opposition

As community criticism of the project mounts, King County tries to take a middle road.

Trouble in Tacoma

A cannabis producer has been shut down for “numerous and substantial violations.”

Between Seattle’s $15 minimum wage and the new no-poach cause agreement, Washington has been leading the nation in advancing fast food workers’ rights. Photo by Fibonacci Blue/Flickr
Washington AG’s Deal Grants Mobility to Fast Food Workers Nationwide

Seven fast food chains have agreed to end no-poaching policies that economists say cause wage stagnation.

The Carlton Complex wildfire burned in north-central Washington state in 2014. Photo by Jason Kriess/Wikimedia Commons
King County Burn Ban Starts This Weekend

Other counties across the state have already enacted similar restrictions.

Numerous complaints against King County Sheriff’s deputies for issues like excessive force and improper search and seizure weren’t investigated due to internal misclassification, a new report says. Photo by Oran Viriyincy/Flickr
Report Finds Complaints Against King County Sheriff’s Deputies Weren’t Investigated

An outside review says that allegations of excessive force and racially-biased policing weren’t pursued.

Most Read