Explosive report shows that teachers who are barred from teaching again in Washington State are still drawing generous teacher pensions at state expense.
King 5 aired an investigative report that exposed more than $2 million per year of wasted taxpayer’s money. Research showed that in some cases, former teachers who had been barred from teaching ever again, and serving significant time in prison for crimes committed while teaching, are receiving generous pensions at taxpayer’s expense.
Teachers like Craig Figley and Larry Pierson are collecting taxpayer-funded pensions after losing their teaching licenses.
Craig Figley is serving 14 ½ years for pleading guilty to two counts of Child Molestation in the First Degree (RCW 9A.44.083), one count of Attempted Child Molestation in the First Degree (RCW 9A.44.083 & 9A.28.020) and one count of Possessing Depictions of Minors Engaged in Sexually Explicit Conduct (RCW 9.68A.070). Figley receives $3111.99 monthly while also in prison for his crimes. If he hasn’t already, he is very close to reaching the amount he contributed to his pension–if we ignore the costs to taxpayers of the legal proceedings and incarceration.
Larry Pierson’s license was revoked in 2003 for strangling a child for sexual gratification while performing his duties as a teacher. Pierson receives a $3539.41 monthly pension and has for about a decade. Research shows he has contributed $130,627.14 into that pension. Adding up ten years’ worth of monthly payments shows that Pierson has more than received his contribution back, and has received conservatively $300,000 from taxpayers.
When teachers like Figley or Pierson lose their license because of crimes related to their jobs, the pensions should go to support the victims of the crimes. Alternatively, the teachers should lose all benefits similar to a military dishonorable discharge.
This kind of loophole could also be addressed in the collective bargaining process where felonious crimes would result in an automatic loss of pension benefits. If this penalty was part of the negotiated agreement, then all parties involved would clearly understand at the beginning of employment and have a clear expectation of service. Addressing this pension loophole in the collective bargaining negotiation presents an easy solution to reducing pension waste.