A Gray Middle School teacher who faces criminal charges over allegations that she had sex with one of her students was fired Tuesday by Tacoma Public Schools.
School district officials sent Keshia Shaw, 33, a letter outlining reasons for her termination, which include allegations in the criminal case as well as other complaints about Shaw from students, parents and colleagues. One allegation outside the criminal case claimed Shaw struck a student. Another said she used inappropriate language in the classroom.
The school district also notified Shaw that officials have reported allegations of her wrongdoing to the state Office of Professional Practices, which has the power to suspend or revoke a teacher’s certification.
Shaw’s attorney, Mike Kelly, said the allegations in the criminal case are unsubstantiated and rely on statements from the boy making the accusations.
“The legal process has barely begun,” Kelly said.
The student, now 17, was 12 when Shaw allegedly began having sex with him. Pierce County prosecutors said he came forward with the allegations in May, after hearing a church sermon about sexual abuse.
In July, Shaw pleaded not guilty in Pierce County Superior Court to five counts of second-degree child rape. A trial date in the case is set for Aug. 30.
Kelly said the criminal allegations form “the lion’s share” of the school district’s reasons for firing Shaw.
Shaw has 10 days to appeal her termination. Asked if Shaw planned to do so, Kelly said it was “premature to get into that.”
The school district conducted its own investigation after learning from law enforcement of the sex allegations.
The News Tribune asked the school district for public documents from that investigation, as well as records of past complaints against Shaw.
Documents released Wednesday contain several previously unrevealed allegations of misconduct.
After Shaw’s July arraignment, the school district said it was made aware of a cellphone video that apparently was shot in spring 2011. Documents describe video of a male student writhing on a classroom floor in pain after allegedly being hit in the groin area by Shaw. According to documents, Shaw tells the student he’s faking, and that she hit him “way up on his leg.” The documents also describe comments Shaw made on the video about the boy’s anatomy, and laughter from Shaw and other students.
Other documents contain parent complaints about Shaw. They said Shaw called out random words like “penis” to get students’ attention when they were acting up. Shaw met with a complaining parent and denied the accusation, saying that anatomical words were used during study of the human body. One parent wrote to former Superintendent Art Jarvis, complaining about Shaw and about the lack of an investigation of the issue by the principal at the time, Yvonne Bullock. According to a 2009 memo, Shaw said she felt the complaining parent “had an issue with her” and offered to meet with the parent.
Also in 2009, Shaw received a “letter of direction” from Bullock criticizing her for taunting a student about his “jacked-up teeth.” After a parent complained, Shaw said that she didn’t remember making the comment but offered to apologize to the boy.
During its investigation, the school district also uncovered reports from three male staff members at Gray who had raised concern about Shaw’s conduct toward them during the 2010-11 school year. Documents said the staff members reported comments that were “initially flirtatious, but became more intense.”
During a staff photo session, Shaw allegedly reached around a male colleague’s shoulder and grabbed his chest “in an inappropriate manner,” documents say. None of the male staff members wanted to file a sexual harassment complaint, but Gray assistant principal Maryn Feliciano said she decided to increase her presence around Shaw during non-class times.
Shaw began working in Tacoma as a substitute teacher in 2002 and was hired full time at Gray in 2005. She was a science and math teacher there.