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By ZACHARY HALASCHAK
Daily News Staff Writer
The Ketchikan School Board held a special meeting on Tuesday to hear the final report from a months-long investigation into the district’s handling of former Ketchikan High School teacher Douglas Edwards.
Edwards, 60, was arrested in June and ultimately charged with six felony counts of sexual abuse of a minor. He had taught at the high school for 15 years before retiring at the end of the 2017-2018 school year. Edwards was also the pastor of the First Baptist Church for 20 years.
The first calls for an investigation by the School Board came in July. In August the School Board ultimately hired a private attorney from Seattle, Suzanne Michael, to coordinate an investigation into whether or not the district followed protocol and handled the situation properly.
The meeting began with a statement from School Board President Matt Eisenhower.
“I realize coming into tonight’s meeting that emotions are raw and tensions may be high, I also know that the process has taken much longer than maybe some would have hoped,” Eisenhower said. “Due process and justice sometimes requires this.”
Eisenhower said that the School Board would receive the full and final report during an executive session at Tuesday’s meeting, and would have time to review that report before another executive session planned for the next School Board meeting on Dec. 12.
“The purpose of tonight’s meeting is to receive the report from the investigator and allow the (School) Board to ask clarifying questions,” Eisenhower said. “Following tonight’s meeting, the School Board will have eight days until our next meeting to review the full report. We have time on the agenda at the next meeting for the (School) Board to take up this issue to discuss further and take action if warranted.”
The School Board president also reminded the public that the purpose of the investigation was never intended to replace the criminal investigation into Edwards.
“The purpose of this investigation was to focus on the actual complaint raised against the district and (Superintendent Bob) Boyle concerning the handling of complaints against Mr. Edwards and how policy was followed,” Eisenhower said.
Although there was time allocated at Tuesday’s meeting for public comment, no one came to the podium to speak, and the School Board convened its executive session to hear the report just shortly after the start of the meeting.
The executive session lasted about an hour-and-a-half, with the School Board coming out of the closed-door gathering at about 7:45 p.m. Boyle was not present in the room while the School Board heard the report from Michael.
Eisenhower said following the session that members of the School Board had received written copies of the report and would have time to review them before next Wednesday’s meeting.
“It is the intent of this (School) Board to provide an executive summary of the report to the public, with the intent to have it released prior to the end of this month. We will be taking up this matter again at our next regularly scheduled (School) Board meeting.”
The next School Board meeting is scheduled for Dec. 12.