Opening arguments heard for East Valley teacher suspension

YAKIMA, Wash. -- East Valley High School P.E. Teacher Michele Taylor appeared before an administrative judge Tuesday, appealing a one-year suspension of her state teaching certificate, imposed by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The suspension comes after allegations she had sex with a student and inappropriately sent hundreds of texts to another in 2009.

A year later, Taylor was acquitted of all criminal charges, but the state still wants Taylor's certificate suspended.

Opening arguments detailed two very different accounts of what happened between the P.E. teacher and those two high school students.

The assistant attorney general took aim at the hearing officer who ruled the school district didn't have enough evidence to fire Taylor.

"Got it dead wrong," said Washington Assistant Attorney General Anne O. Shaw. "Her decision was based on facts not on the record, other facts that were attributed to the wrong witnesses."

The Assistant Attorney General not only argued that Taylor's suspension should be upheld, but that the judge should also consider extending it from one to two years.

Taylor's attorney paints a very different picture of the allegations surrounding Taylor and the students.

"He is 15 years old," said Taylor's attorney Joe Evans. "The movie he had going on his head was that he was developing a personal intimate relationship with Ms. Taylor."

He argues Taylor helped the boy through tough times.

When the student learned Taylor talked to her husband about it and was texting other students, the defense claims the boy's attitude changed.

"He said to her in a phone call, I'm going to go into school next week and ruin your life," said Evans.

Five former student witnesses testified about seeing text messages that gave the impression Taylor was flirting.

More students and teachers are expected to be called by the state.

For now, Taylor remains on paid administrative leave during the process.