Washington state law does not bar teachers from having sex with 18-year-old students.
That’s the decision of a three-judge panel of the Washington Court of Appeals, which on Jan. 13 ordered the dismissal of a case brought against Hoquiam High School’s former choir teacher.
The teacher, Matthew Hirschfelder, was charged with first-degree sexual misconduct with a minor. He challenged a judge’s refusal to dismiss his case. The appeals court unanimously agreed that the state law is vague, and that the legislature only intended to forbid sexual contact between school employees and students who are 16 or 17.
Mr. Hirschfelder was 33 in 2006, at the time of the alleged relationship with the woman. He resigned the next year.
A version of this article appeared in the January 21, 2009 edition of Education Week