POULSBO – A former North Kitsap High School Spanish and traffic safety teacher goes to trial at 9 a.m. Oct. 9 on a charge of sexual misconduct with a minor.
Michael Paul Carnegie, 38, of Bremerton resigned as a school employee after he was charged by the Kitsap County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Assistant Superintendent Chris Willits said. According to the investigator’s report, Carnegie allegedly had sexual contact with a student, who was 17, six times between June and August 2014.
The District Court clerk’s office emails copies of the day’s criminal court filings to the media; Carnegie was served with a court summons on May 26. The school district sent notification to parents on Sept. 7; according to the Kitsap Sun, the notification followed its inquiries into the case.
The former student, who is now 20, told investigators that the encounters occurred in Carnegie’s classroom and in a car near the campus.
“When I asked her if there were any special favors given to her or if she had ever been threatened by Carnegie, she said that when she took the final driver’s examination she was unsure if she had passed on her own merits” or because of a sexual act that day, the investigator wrote.
Carnegie made his first appearance in court on June 22. He pleaded not guilty. His attorney is Thomas E. Weaver of Bremerton.
The court barred Carnegie from having any contact with the alleged victim, with North Kitsap School District students, and with minors younger than 18 unless supervised, according to court documents. He is allowed to maintain contact with his three children.
The alleged victim told the court she intends to provide a statement through her attorney at a later date. Carnegie listed two defense witnesses as of Aug. 28: the alleged victim’s mother, and an investigator hired by the defense.
The alleged victim was interviewed on Aug. 10 by the investigator; present were Weaver, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer Koo, and a victim-witness advocate. After the interview, “some plea negotiations took place, [but] there was not a meeting of the minds,” Weaver wrote in a court document.
Carnegie has a master’s degree and 11 years of experience as a teacher, according to more than one database.
Willits told Kitsap News Group on Sept. 7 that school administrators learned of the allegations in 2016-17 and notified the Poulsbo Police Department. When the teacher was charged, administrators met with him and he resigned, Willits said.
“The investigation took a long time,” Willits said. “When charges were filed, we intervened and met with the staff member and had a conversation around our responsibility as a school district. That’s when that person resigned.”
The district reported in the notification: “We understand that news of this sort can be very disturbing for families. The safety and well-being of our students is always our highest priority. Please know that the district took all appropriate measures to ensure student safety while the allegations were being investigated. We work to foster an educational environment where appropriate student-staff boundaries are maintained, and we will continue to do so in the future. Any staff member who deviates from their professional obligations in this regard is a disappointment to everyone in the North Kitsap community.”
The district notification did not state why parents were notified three months after Carnegie had been charged.
The notification concluded, “Every staff member in North Kitsap has been trained on maintaining appropriate staff and student boundaries and recognizing potential conduct of concern. Every staff member is currently receiving re-training in the 2017-18 school year. We continually evaluate our training to ensure that the message is clear. This process will continue.”
It’s the second sexual misconduct case to come to light in three years at North Kitsap schools, and both were marked by delayed notification to parents. The school district was notified in late spring 2015 that a student with special needs sexually abused other students with special needs on different occasions between October 2014 and May 2015 while on a bus to and from school. Willits said buses for students with special needs now have an adult paraprofessional educator on board as a monitor.
Poulsbo Elementary School parents also received late notification in February 2016 that their students had been evacuated from classrooms because of odors from a failing HVAC unit.
— Richard Walker is managing editor of the Kitsap News Group. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.