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Request for state audit on how L.A. Unified handles child abuse claims approved; begins immediately

Assemblymember Ricardo Lara represents California's 50th Assembly district
Assemblymember Ricardo Lara represents California's 50th Assembly district
Courtesy Cal. State Assembly Democratic Caucus website:

State officials unanimously approved a request today by an assemblyman representing southeast L.A. to conduct a performance audit into how L.A. Unified handles child abuse claims, a spokeswoman said.

The audit begins immediately, said Julia Juarez, a spokeswoman for Bell Gardens Democratic Assemblyman Ricardo Lara.

Lara, who chairs the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, requested the committee perform the audit after two teachers from Miramonte Elementary School were accused of lewd acts on children. L.A. Unified has since seen an increase in reports.

In his request, Lara asks the state auditor evaluate the district according to at least eight possible areas to identify policies and practices that need to be strengthened to improve oversight.

Superintendent John Deasy said he "welcomes" an audit that will strengthen laws to protect children.

"This would include speeding up the process by which the District can dismiss emplyoees proven to have engaged in sexual misconduct," Deasy said, in a statement released earlier this week. "It's my expectation that any thorough audit would also look at the policies and procedures law enforcement follows in these cases."

The district and its board are working to strengthen guidelines on how it notifies parents of sexual misconduct allegations in their children's schools, Deasy said.

Details of these guidelines will be officially unveiled at a March 13 board meeting, but board member Nury Martinez provided KPCC with some details on the resolution she is crafting last week.

Tami Abdollah can be reached via email and on Twitter (@latams).