Commission finds former Nome schools superintendent violated ethics code

Diana Haecker

The Alaska Professional Teaching Practices Commission has issued a severe reprimand to Mike Brawner, former superintendent of Nome Public Schools, after investigating unspecified complaints from NPS staff members.

The commission found that Brawner violated the Alaska Administrative Code of Ethics and Teaching Standards. In a brief statement, the commission referred to a section of the administrative code that says, "In fulfilling obligations to the profession, an educator may not sexually harass a fellow employee."

The commission did not specify how many complaints it received or from how many complainants.

According to the Commissioner of Education office, the commissioner signed off on the recommendations of the commission to reprimand Brawner. The disciplinary action notification was sent to the Nome Public Schools board president, the certification section of the Department of Education and Early Development to be placed in Brawner's file and to the national clearinghouse that maintains records of professional discipline against teaching professionals.

According to a short statement by the Professional Teaching Practices Commission, it notified the complainants of the action of the commission. The notification of a reprimand is limited to a summary of the action and the commission did not elaborate on specifics.

Brawner keeps his license and may continue to work within school districts but always will have to explain why he was severely reprimanded by the commission.

Brawner has left Nome and his post as superintendent effective March 4. In a letter to the school board, he said that circumstances beyond his control forced him to resign and to be with family.

School Board President Betsy Brennan said the complaints were not brought to the school board. Instead, the complainants turned to the Professional Teaching Practices Commission and submitted their grievances. According to Brennan, the board learned that there was a problem from a staff member who shared the commission packet of complaints with a board member.

Brennan said the board needs to take a look at the policies that deal with how complaints should be handled. Usually, complaints of staff are brought to the immediate supervisor.

"I can understand that staff are apprehensive to bring this to a supervisor and writing an anonymous letter doesn't work either," Brennan said. "This was an eye opener."

Brennan said the board would have to take a look at formulating a policy that describes the process to file complaints.

The Nome Nugget