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The Middleton teacher fired from Glacier Creek Middle School in 2010 for looking at pornographic material at school will return to work Friday but at a different middle school.

Andrew Harris will teach seventh grade science at Kromrey Middle School, Middleton-Cross Plains School District superintendent Don Johnson announced Tuesday. Harris will replace a science teacher who is being promoted to a newly created dean of students position, Johnson said in an interview.

Some parents whose children attend Kromrey said Tuesday they were upset to hear the news. But the district announced it would not transfer students out of Harris’ new class.

Harris reports to work Friday and will begin teaching students Monday, the start of the second semester.

The announcement caps a lengthy appeal by the School Board of an arbitrator’s 2012 ruling that said Harris had been unfairly terminated when compared to punishments handed down to other teachers that an investigation found also looked at explicit materials or emails while at work or on work computers. The appeal reached the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which announced last week it would not hear the case, prompting the district to comply with the arbitrator’s ruling that Harris be reinstated.

“I appreciate what the district did finally,” said William Haus, Harris’ attorney. “Hopefully everything goes swell and this comes to a close. I’ve had previous cases where people have been able to put this kind of thing behind them and go forward in peace and hopefully this happens here.”

To comply with the arbitrator’s ruling, the district was required to give Harris his former position or a “substantially equivalent position,” Johnson said.

In a letter to parents, Johnson said, “I want to be very clear ... The District has exhausted every legal recourse that was available. We are forging ahead as is required by the courts.’’

Julie Cushman, whose daughter attends Kromrey and who has younger children who will attend the school in the future, said she would request her children be reassigned to another class if Harris teaches his or her class.

But Johnson said the district can’t accommodate such requests.

“We’re certainly concerned with any parents that are uncomfortable with that, but we’ve been ordered by the court to implement this so we’re following the law and we really don’t have a lot of options here,” said Johnson. “We believe we can make the classroom a safe, positive environment and we will do that. …

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“We’ll make sure there will certainly be a presence there to make parents comfortable and be fair to Mr. Harris.”

Joe Hamel, a guidance counselor at Memorial High School in Madison and a parent of a seventh-grader at Kromrey, said he doesn’t believe Harris should be teaching anywhere.

“He shouldn’t be teaching in schools. I certainly wouldn’t want to be working with somebody like that, doing that kind of thing,” he said.

The district will be on the hook for about $932,000 in legal costs and back pay, according to figures provided by the district, an amount of money that Hamel said could have been better spent elsewhere.

“I don’t think they were very smart in the way (the district) dealt with it,” Hamel said.

Harris was part of a grievance the Middleton Education Association filed on behalf of seven district employees after a 2009 investigation revealed the employees had viewed or shared pornographic or sexually inappropriate images, jokes or videos on district computers. Harris was fired, while the rest received suspensions ranging from three to 15 days or reprimands.

The district maintains the content Harris viewed was more inappropriate than that seen by others. Haus has said the content viewed by others was the same or worse in some cases.

Holly Van Gilder, a parent of two boys at Glacier Creek Middle School, said Tuesday that she and about 30 to 50 parents are organizing a letter or a petition to send to Gov. Scott Walker’s office to see if Walker can prevent Harris from returning to teaching. A spokesman for Walker did not return a request for comment.

Johnson said the district needs to figure out how to move forward.

“It has been a long road. I think everybody is a little bit fatigued,” he said. “I think it has been hard for our parents, for our staff and for the board.

“I think even though they’re disappointed with the outcome, they felt they were doing the right thing and it was the ethical and correct action to take.”

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