Former Ash-West Special Education Director Alan Chates, seemed contrite and apologetic in a letter he sent to school district officials after police caught him using a fake handicapped parking permit.

In the letter, Chates said, "I am writing to all of you to tell you how deeply sorry and ashamed I am by my actions."

Chates, who held his position for four years, used the parking placard belonging to his now-deceased father to park in handicapped spaces at his office at Oakmont Regional High School for the last eight months, according to the letter.

He also noted that "my primary embarrassment comes from the fact that I am the district's director of special education/pupil services [I would be cracking up while writing this]. I realize that the public perception is my utter disregard and insensitivity to the community that I have been hired to serve."

In the letter, he asked to be allowed to continue serving the district, but later resigned.

However, after he resigned, the apologetic tone of the letter disappeared.

Instead, Chates told the Sentinel & Enterprise he felt he had been "raked over the coals," by the school system, because they based their decision to accept his resignation on the license-plate incident and not his job performance.

"I resigned in good faith because I thought it was the right thing to do. I wish I'd been judged for my work over four years, but I wasn't, and I think it was a political issue," he said.

He also added, "I have a whole briefcase full of really nice letters, cards I received from parents," Chates, 59, said. "None of that's been recorded."

Superintendent Michael Zapantis did not want to comment on the matter other than to say that Chates made the right decision by resigning.

"I think it was best for the district and himself," Zapantis said.

We couldn't agree more.

Chates' decision to use his dead father's handicapped license plate and to park in a handicapped spot wasn't a one-time indiscretion or infraction.

By his own admission, he parked in the spot illegally for eight months.

Every day that he used the license plate and every time that he parked in a handicapped spot, he was violating the law.

He was also sending a horrendous message to the students he was hired to serve by in essence telling them it's okay to break the law sometimes.

Chates, unfortunately, has no one to blame but himself for this situation, and he was right to resign.

He was being paid $91,520 in his position, according to school district budget figures, and his decision to use the fake license plate and park over and over again in a handicapped spot rightly cost him his job.

We hope that the school district will be able to quickly hire a capable replacement and that school officials will be able to move past this sad chapter in their history.