Alleged harasser remains on CKSD payroll

Although twice disciplined by the Central Kitsap School District for sexual harassment allegations, former New Frontiers Junior High School educator James Bogert is still on the district’s payroll.

Using accrued sick time, Bogert will be paid 79 percent of his teacher’s salary until June 30, 2002, according to district documents obtained through a state Open Records Act request. The settlement agreement also infers that Bogert will be eligible for retirement benefits.

Anne Whitman, a classified employee who worked at New Frontiers with Bogert, filed a lawsuit alleging the district did not do enough to protect her from Bogert, who had a reputation for sexual harassment. The suit was filed Feb. 27; no court date has been set.

In a court document, Whitman contends Bogert made unwanted sexual comments, uninvited touches and sent her sexually explicit e-mails.

“There is no fault to be assigned here,” said Dirk Gleysteen, director of maintenance and operations for the Central Kitsap School District. “This was a good deal for the Central Kitsap School District and its taxpayers.”

Public employees like Bogert who are represented by a union are not easy to terminate, Gleysteen said. Had Bogert been fired, he could have appealed the decision and brought on a long, costly lawsuit.

“This was calculated to be less expensive, more certain and give the staff closure so they could get back to our mission of educating kids,” Gleysteen said.

He added, “Had we fired this guy, and had he appealed, and had the decision been overturned as frequently happens, we might have had to reinstate him with back pay. Maybe with interest.”

The district first investigated sexual harassment complaints against Bogert, then a counselor at Central Kitsap Junior High, in 1997.

At the end of a five-week inquiry, then-Director of Secondary Education Cathy Davidson wrote “Mr. Bogert’s behavior toward ten female staff members constituted a pattern of sexual advances and verbal and physical contact and communication of a sexual nature which created an intimidating and offensive environment.”

The behaviors, which included unwanted hugs, kisses and sexual comments, continued even after several co-workers told him to stop, Davidson reported. Bogert’s behavior toward female students was also a cause of concern. Staff members alleged that he solicited hugs, rubbed pregnant students’ bellies, and had once “taken off a student’s shoe and sock and rubbed her leg and foot while she was in the clinic,” a secretary reported to Davidson.

Davidson recommended that Bogert be suspended without pay for five days and that he be reassigned to New Frontiers Junior High School as an educator.

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