As an educator, and someone who has sought employment as a teacher/educator in the area, the two most recent stories of sexual impropriety by teachers toward students make me sick! I can’t get a job here because I have prior teaching experience & a master’s degree in education, so the districts would rather pay the low grade for a new graduate than the higher amount for a seasoned teacher. That’s fact. So, this is simply… no words for it. PS – I was still in high school in 1989 when he started assaulting students, and only got reprimands. Sick!
Touch gets ex-teacher 60 days
By Paul Nelson Staff Writer
Albany Times Union
Published: 08:44 p.m., Wednesday, October 20, 2010
EAST GREENBUSH — Bernard ”Bernie” Watt, a high school gym teacher for 20 years, was sentenced to 60 days in jail and three years of probation Wednesday for forcibly touching a female student last year during gym class, Rensselaer County District Attorney Richard McNally said.
Watt must also register as a sex offender pay a $250 fine, McNally said.
Watt, 49, a former Columbia High School gym teacher and soccer coach, was found guilty in May after a trial in Town Court of touching a student’s breasts at the school in February 2009.
Watt was found guilty on charges of endangering the welfare of a child and forcible touching for the incident that occurred during a basketball drill in the high school gym.
In December, 2009, Watt was fired by the East Greenbush district after he was found guilty of misconduct following a state Education Department hearing. According to the hearing minutes, the victim said she and Watt were running in opposite directions, bumped into each other and Watt then touched her breasts twice and said, “I’m gonna get you.”
In his defense, Watt told hearing officers the gym incident was unintentional contact and that he did not utter the words.
The charge “is implausible because of the unlikelihood that any teacher would engage in an intentional inappropriate sexual act with a student in the middle of a gym class,” Watt told hearing officers.
Officers at that hearing also heard evidence of a separate incident during a soccer practice in September 2008 when Watt yelled, “Hey Hispanic kid, run like you are running to the border,” according to a copy of the minutes and decisions of a state Education Department teacher tenure hearing. Watt said his words were misunderstood and by the “border” he meant the edge of the field.
Hearing officer James Markowitz concluded after hearing testimony on both incidents from witnesses, including several students, that the district should fire Watt.
Markowitz noted in his decision for termination, that Watt, who worked for the district since 1989, accepted a reprimand in 2002 for making sexually inappropriate remarks to a female student after being warned following a similar incident in 1998.
Officers also said Watt faced a tenure hearing in 2005 during which he was found guilty of harassment for inappropriate sexual comments to a female student.
An arbitrator determined at the time that Watt should be fired if he again made similar remarks.
Watt, who played professional soccer and has coached at area schools, is noted nationally as a specialist in coaching goalies. He runs a soccer training facility at his Schodack home.