December 11, 2013WEST BRANCH, Mich. – The Michigan Education Association is going to arbitration to try to force the West Branch-Rose City school district to pay a former teacher who was convicted of molesting a student a $10,000 severance buyout.
The father of the victim is outraged, calling the union’s efforts on behalf of the sex criminal “ludicrous” and saying any school money due to the teacher should go to his son, who is “out there trying to make it in this world all messed up.”
Neal Erickson, a former math teacher at Rose City Middle School, was convicted this summer of raping a young student over three years, from 2006 to 2009, and sentenced to 15-30 years in prison.
The case sparked community outrage when several of the district’s teachers wrote letters of support for Erickson, pleading for a lenient sentence. A school board member, Mike Eagan, also drew the public’s ire when he sat with the Erickson family at the pedophile’s sentencing.
The community rallied by the victim’s parents, John and Lori Janczewski, to urge the school board to terminate Erickson’s supporters, but officials ultimately decided to keep the teachers out of fear of legal retaliation.
Erickson pleaded guilty of first-degree sexual misconduct with a minor May 8.
Erickson was placed on paid administrative leave when state police launched an investigation in October 2012. Erickson was arrested and charged with criminal sexual conduct in December 2012.
On March 26, 2013 WB-RC officials offered a $10,000 buyout for any qualifying teacher who left the school district that year, an incentive superintendent Dan Cwayna said the district had used in the past to encourage needed staff reductions.