On the sidewalk just outside the Los Angeles Unified school district's 29 story headquarters, lawyer Luis Carrillo told reporters Thursday that Wilmington-area parents complained to a high ranking district official in October 2009 about improper touching by a teacher. Carrillo said parents angrily told local district superintendent Linda Del Cueto that elementary school teacher Robert Pimentel was acting inappropriately.
“The parent was concerned about this inappropriate touching of her daughter and she’s the one who raised red flags and, ‘hey I don’t like what he did to my daughter,’” Carrillo said.
Carrillo said Del Cueto took notes -- which should have found their way to then school district superintendent Ramon Cortines. If true, the meeting could increase the district’s liability.
Pimentel remained in the classroom for more than two years after that alleged meeting.
The district disciplined Irene Hinojosa, principal at George de la Torre Elementary School, who it said ignored the complaints against Pimentel.
In a statement, L.A. Unified’s general counsel, David Holmquist, didn’t directly respond to Carrillo’s allegations. Holmquist said the district moved to fire Pimentel in March, 2012 soon after officials learned of abuse allegations, suggesting that they did not know about the 2008 allegations.
“LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy immediately asked the Board of Education to fire him. Deasy also immediately asked the Board to fire Principal Irene Hinojosa for her failure to report, as required by state law," Holmquist said. "The Board acted swiftly and decisively in both cases.”
Pimentel has pleaded not guilty to felony sexual abuse charges. Law enforcement officials said 19 victims have come forward.