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School district will fire Twin Lakes teacher

The Federal Way School District has initiated the process for firing Scott Riley, a music teacher at Twin Lakes Elementary School who was charged last spring with communicating with a minor for immoral purposes, a misdemeanor sex crime.

Riley, 52, pleaded not guilty to the charges. A trail date is set for Oct. 30.

Riley, who earned $69,094 annually, has remained on paid administrative leave since he was initially investigated on suspicion of child molestation in the first degree, a class A felony. He was arrested at Twin Lakes early May 9 after an 11-year-old girl alleged that he had inappropriately touched her several weeks earlier during band practice in the school music room.

The girl told police that Riley touched her buttocks over her clothing while she practiced a song, reports said. He squeezed several times, reports said.

The girl did not come forward with the information initially. Her mother read about the incident in the girl's journal and contacted police, reports said.

If Riley is convicted as charged, he faces up to one year in jail and $5,000 in fines, said Dan Donohoe, King County Superior Court spokesman. The King County Prosecuting Office also recommended the court restrict Riley from having any contact or supervision over minors, according to court papers.

Riley faced accusations of inappropriate behavior with students at a previous job in Nevada. He was accused of having sexual relationships with two students, and he also married a former student of his at Pahrump Valley High School, where he was an assistant principal.

Those allegations were not confirmed until recently.

In Federal Way, the incident reported May 8 was the first time Riley was accused of child molestation locally, according to the human resources department. He had faced previous disciplinary actions for performance concerns as well as for yelling at a student. Witnesses reported that while Riley was yelling at the student, he was unconsciously adjusting his pants in the area of his crotch.

Firing a school district employee can be a lengthy process. On Aug. 22, the district sent Riley, via certified mail, a letter of probable cause stating their intent to end his employment. Riley then had an opportunity to initiate an appeal process, which he did. Next, the employment decision will be heard before a judge.

"It's due process and you have to go through some very careful steps outlined by law and you have to be diligent about it," said Diane Turner, Federal Way School District spokeswoman.

Riley has not yet been convicted of any crime, although he doesn't have to be convicted to lose his district job. The district's letter of intent to fire him is based on his lying about his past relationship with a student at Pahrump Valley.

When questioned by Federal Way human resources officials in September 2001, Riley denied that he was involved sexually with Jackie Daly, who later became his wife, while she was a student of his. Recent court records indicate that Riley was having sex with Daly while she was 17 years old and still a student.

"He denied a relationship when questioned and the real issue is, when questioned, he gave false information. He was dishonest," Turner said.

The letter states three reasons for initiating Riley's discharge. The first reason is that Riley lied.

"Your dishonesty violates the district's expectation that its employees will be truthful," the letter states. "In order to provide an educational environment focused on the welfare and teaching of children, the District must reasonably rely on its employees to be truthful and honest. Your dishonesty prevented the District from making fully informed decisions about how to provide a safe environment for its students."

The letter noted secondly that sexual contact with a student is a crime and listed the current charges as the third reason for termination. Either of the first two reasons alone would be cause for termination, the letter states.

Contact Margo Horner: mhorner@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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