A former Queen Creek High School teacher’s perseverance paid off Monday, as the state Board of Education approved his bid for a new teaching certificate, four years after he left the profession in disgrace.
Joseph Richardson also made his case at the board’s April meeting, which produced a 5-3 vote against giving him a high-school teaching certificate, but six votes were needed in order to turn it down.
All 11 board members participated in Monday’s meeting, and they voted 6-5 to back Richardson’s request, the action which had been recommended by the education department’s Professional Practices Advisory Committee.
Richardson resigned from the Queen Creek district in 2002 after students reported that he’d viewed pornographic Web sites on his classroom computer.
“I’m disgusted with my own actions, and the thoughts that I had,” Richardson said, admitting to the board that he looked at the pornographic images, which had slipped through the district’s Internet content filters, and that some had been of underage subjects.
He said that since then he had undergone counseling to deal with his problems surrounding pornography. He has taught at a Mesa charter school without any reported incidents of misconduct.
He told the board he would understand if they voted not to give him the certificate, “but I hope you’ll give me a second chance.”
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne, who sits on the state board, said at both meetings he would defer to the professional practices committee because it had spent more time on the case.
Other board members said they were concerned about allowing Richardson back in the classroom. “When they’re accessing pornography and viewing pictures of minors, that’s a big issue,” Joanne Kramer said.
After the vote Richardson said he will begin applying for jobs at East Valley school districts, though he didn’t know how receptive they would be.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I’ll find out.”