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Idaho Falls Teacher Richard Hancock Exonerated

March 21st, 2007 by Halli

Five years ago, an intense, caring young teacher named Richard Hancock spoke to us on our radio program, detailing some very strange charges leveled at him by co-workers. The resultant investigation and ensuing lawsuit filed by the teacher have taken five years to unfold. The AP story on the subject is available from the Pittsburgh Tribune.

Richard Hancock’s only crimes seem to be caring too much, and taking his teaching job too seriously. Fortunately, the Idaho Education Association (IEA), the teachers’ union, rose to the occasion and fulfilled its duty in protecting its wrongly accused member. (Yes, I do believe unions have their place.) They hired a competent Boise attorney, and now Mr. Hancock has a letter of apology from Idaho Falls School District 91, and an undisclosed settlement.

The letter reads, in part, “The district regrets any inconvenience its investigation caused Mr. Hancock and his family”. You can bet that “inconvenience” was considerable. One of the charges leveled against Mr. Hancock was that he attempted to carry on an “inappropriate relationship” with a student. How would such a charge inconvenience you and your family? I can only imagine.

In fact, what Mr. Hancock had done was to urge a female junior high student to look more deeply into a story she was analyzing for an assignment. As a hint about the overriding theme of (non-romantic) love in the story, Mr. Hancock included a hand-drawn heart in his notations. Hardly sexual assault.

As for this and the reporting of an alleged threat against his principal, we may have a perfect example of professional jealousy. In addition, it is possible that we have a display of the worst possible attributes of females in the workplace. While not quite the “queen bee syndrome”, so much discussed of late, it still smacks of feminine intrigue. Yes, men can be cutthroat in the workplace as well, but usually display it in different ways

The bottom line is that an excellent teacher has been cleared of spurious charges, and that District 91 students will continue to benefit from his dedication and insight. Yes, I have cause to admit the IEA acted appropriately in this case.

It is regrettable that taxpayers of District 91 will be left to pick up the tab for the settlement. How unfortunate that the debt won’t be paid by those who brought the baseless charges in the first place.

Of course, there is no way to truly repay Mr. Hancock for the pain and humiliation he was forced to suffer.

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Posted in Education, Idaho Falls Issues, Taxes | 3 Comments »

3 Responses

  1. Becca Cotton Says:

    I was priveleged to be a student of Mr. Hancock as well as a family friend. How refreshing it is to see someone write something so powerful and honest to help clear his name. He is a great teacher and a wonderful man and it is my hope that the ladies that are responsible for his suffering lost their jobs.

  2. Yuri Kye Says:

    Richard Hancock was my English teacher in 7th and 8th grade, and my sister’s in the 7th, and taught my sister to become conversational in French in her 9th grade year within 9 months. Richard took me from an ESL-level immigrant student to reading at my grade level within two years. This only speaks of how effective as an instructor.

    As a middle school teacher he was never harsh; but he was exceedingly demanding. Not only did he teach more difficult, and dense, curriculum than the average teacher of his subject and grade in the school, he taught in a way that made one ask questions and to dig deeper. It was too evident that while he was disbursing his energy and attention over nearly two dozen pupils at once he personally cared for and believed in each one of us. He made everyone believe they had a unique and personal relationship that was a two way street of information exchange.

    He loves to learn from his students. He encourages excelling in subjects other than English and was never anything less than available for his students. He encouraged us to develop our own identity and invited individuality to the classroom everyday by begging us to express ourselves with rich vocabulary, stories from our personal experiences, and our daily journals. He was professional and gracious in his future interactions with me and my peers years after we’d matriculated from his class. Even as this legal mess was unfolding he didn’t show an ounce of defeat, despair, frustration, or rage. He was still the kind and available mentor he’d always been. He’s the kind of guy that you want to keep in touch with 10 years out of high school just so you can sometimes email him for his insight on matters in life.

    I know he’s now been exonerated and those who started the scandal have been terminated, but I don’t think that’s an adequate punishment to those phony educators who tarnished Mr. Hancock’s reputation for whatever reason. You dedicate 20 years of your life to doing some of the finest academic educational work being done in secondary school today… just so that some professionally jealous backstabbing, feminist lunatic can try to oust you (one fact that I must discuss is that Mr. Hancock produced his own mini-textbooks and project booklets… and Margene Kennedy, an instigator of the initial campaign against Mr. Hancock and his next-door classroom neighbor at Gale, used to copy his work for use in her own classroom) I was dear friends with his son, and even though they weren’t close I could see how much of a toll it was taking on everyone around Mr. Hancock.

  3. Julia Ditzer Says:

    I was a German exchange student at Idaho Falls High School in 2010/2011, and Mr. Hancock was my teacher. The best teacher I have ever had. Being back in Germany, I miss his class. He has taught me so many things, and I am sure I am not an exception. Mr. Hancock cares about every student. He tries to make them understand that they can do it. I loved his class.

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