Investigations of principal and teacher send terrible message to students

In a single week of unfortunate news, the unrelated arrest of a principal and criminal investigation of teacher at Reynolds High School have diminished public confidence in education, while also sending unhealthy messages to students served by those educators.

In the first case, the arrest of the school's principal for driving under the influence of alcohol sets a terrible example for young people. High school is a time when students are subjected to a variety of temptations - alcohol, tobacco and drugs among them. It's enough of a challenge for teenagers to stay on a straight path without hearing that the ultimate authority figure - the principal, for gosh sakes - has been charged with drinking and driving.

Kevin Kannier was stopped by police in Sandy on May 14, but not charged with drunken driving until this week. His blood alcohol content of 0.21, nearly three times the legal limit, indicates a level of intoxication that goes beyond mere social consumption.

We don't disagree with the school superintendent's decision to leave Kannier in place as high school principal, but we do hope the district and the principal fully recognize just how damaging the incident has been. We're sure the district is taking appropriate steps to assist Kannier and to ensure that such behavior is never repeated.

Equally distressing is the example allegedly set by accounting teacher Cheryl Cooper, who is accused of misappropriating large sums of money from the Reynolds Education Association. If guilty, Cooper violated the trust of two groups: her fellow union members and her students. Again we must marvel at the message being transmitted to those she teaches. Will they come away believing that an accounting career is lucrative because of all the money they can siphon from their clients or employers?

Of course, in both cases the larger lesson for young people should be that poor behavior doesn't go undetected or unpunished. Kannier and Cooper face court action, fines, restitution and public humiliation.

Other people who commit similar misdeeds wouldn't be subjected to quite the same level of scrutiny as a principal or a teacher. But that's as it should be. The community entrusts its children each day to educators who should serve as role models and mentors. Teachers and principals must uphold that trust. At a bare minimum, they should stay off the police blotter.

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