Port Townsend High School sickout ends — “we are back! Sorry”

PORT TOWNSEND — After unanimously calling in sick Tuesday, 35 teachers returned Wednesday to Port Townsend High School and classes resumed as usual.

As students crossed the school’s parking lot heading for their classes, the voice of band teacher Ron Madden greeted them.

“We are back!” repeated Madden. “Sorry. We are back!”

Teens rushed around him, trying to get to their classes before the morning bell.

“All 35 teachers are back. Things are back to normal, as far as we know,” said superintendent’s administrative assistant Rosanne Avelar.

“Nothing out of ordinary had been reported by the high school.”

Port Townsend High School teachers’ decision to call in sick Tuesday came in support of former boys basketball coach Russ Hickman, who teachers said was treated unfairly by the School Board.

Asked to resign

The coach, who is also the high school athletic director and a teacher, was asked last week to resign from his basketball coaching role after an incident at a game in which Hickman sat out portion of the game in protest of a player calling a time-out.

Teachers argued that Hickman was not given due process and that school administrators did not follow personnel policy.

District administration on Tuesday said no action had been taken in the Hickman matter, and nothing was planned against the 35 teachers.

Superintendent Carol Andreasen said she had no new comment and said no special meeting for the School Board had been scheduled.

As it stands, the board is scheduled for a regular meeting Feb. 14. No special executive session to discuss Hickman’s future had been scheduled as of Wednesday.

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