What would you do if your son or daughter was learning how to swim in gym class at school and an hour after their class was over, someone discovered their body at the bottom of the swimming pool? Who would you hold responsible? The teacher; the school or both?
In November 2011, Antonio Reyes was a freshman at Wenatchee High School in Washington state. Reyes didn’t know how to swim when his gym class took to the pool. Ed Knaggs was his gym teacher and was supposed to be teaching him and other students how to swim.
On that fateful November day, Knaggs never bothered to check to make sure all of his students were out of pool. An hour after class had ended, someone else discovered Reyes’s body at the bottom of the pool. Efforts failed to revive the young student.
Knaggs was placed on administrative leave and then in April 2012, the school district fired Knaggs for his neglect leading to the death of Antonio Reyes. However, Knaggs decided to fight his dismissal and like many legals battles, the fight has taken a few years to decide.
Earlier this month, Knaggs and school district reached a settlement where the district agreed to change Knaggs status from terminated to still being on administrative leave through August 2016. Part of that settlement meant that the district would pay him $165,000 in back pay in addition to his legal expenses.
Chelan County Superior Court Judge Lesley Allan ruled in the case and you will be shocked at the judge’s ruling. Allan said that the district was equally to blame in the death of Reyes and then ordered him reinstated to his teaching position.
All toll, Knaggs will receive $500,000 in back pay and legal expenses, plus being returned to the classroom. The school district not only shelled out half a million dollars to Knaggs, but they also paid the Reyes family $2 million for the wrongful death of their son.
Part of Knaggs’ settlement will not only pay him his base salary of $82,500 a year, but he will receive full health benefits and payments towards his retirement. He is not allowed to teach at any other school anywhere in the state or nation for the next two years.
This makes me sick to the stomach!
Knaggs was the teacher that sent Reyes into the pool. It was his responsibility to watch his students while there were in the pool to make sure they were safe. It was his responsibility to make sure that every student was out of the pool before he left the area. For failing to meet his responsibility, Knaggs has been rewarded with his job back, full benefits, back pay and job security for at least two more years. This means that Knaggs got away with the negligent death of Antonio Reyes. Where is the justice for Antonio Reyes and his family? Where is the accountability that Ed Knaggs should have been held to? In my opinion, Knaggs should be behind bars for his negligence, instead of back in the classroom.