So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

UC attorneys attempt to unseal portions of task force report on pepper spraying incident

Occupy Pepper Spray

Wayne Tilcock / AP

File: In this Nov. 18, 2011 file photo, University of California, Davis Police Lt. John Pike uses pepper spray to move Occupy UC Davis protesters while blocking their exit from the school's quad in Davis, Calif.

University of California attorneys will argue Wednesday morning for the release of specific portions of reports on the 2011 pepper spray incident at UC Davis that remain under seal in Alameda County Superior Court. 

The UC attorneys have been working most of March to make the reports public.

The task force reports, ordered by UC President Mark Yudof at the request of UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, was scheduled to be released on March 6, but the release was put on hold when Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio M. Grillo granted attorneys representing the campus police union and specific officers involved in the incident a temporary restraining order.

During a hearing on March 16, Judge Grillo ordered that portions of the task force report investigating the events at UC Davis remain under seal while police privacy and safety issues are considered.


State high court ruling may mean longer, pricier litigation for school districts

Mercer 13502

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The California Supreme Court building seal.

The California Supreme Court ruling that school districts may be liable for hiring or supervising an employee who molests children could mean a lengthier and more expensive litigation process for districts dealing with teacher misconduct lawsuits.

The state's highest court ruled Thursday that "a public school district may be vicariously liable...for negligence of administrators or supervisors in hiring, supervising and retaining a school employee who sexually harasses and abuses a student," according to the 22-page opinion.

Officials for the Los Angeles Unified School District, is facing dozens of lawsuits involving a former Miramonte Elementary School teacher who is charged with 23 counts of lewd acts upon a child, could not comment on the specific ramifactions.

(Superintendent John Deasy said he couldn't comment without having reviewed the opinion. The district's legal department did not provide a comment, said LAUSD spokesman Thomas Waldman.)


Fremont High School special ed teaching assistant and softball coach charged with inappropriate relationship

A high school teaching assistant and girls' softball coach will be arraigned today on charges of four felony counts for an inappropriate relationship with an underage student.

Alain Eloym Salas, 40, worked at John C. Fremont Senior High School in Los Angeles and will be arraigned today at Compton Superior Court on three counts of lewd acts upon a child and one count of contact with a minor for a sexual offense.

The alleged victim is a 15-year-old girl. The alleged crimes occurred between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30, 2011.

Salas was arrested Monday and is currently being held without bail, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Inmate Information Center. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office will recommend his bail be set at $300,000, according to a release.

Salas started working for LAUSD in 1997 and has been at Fremont High since 2006 when he was hired to work there as a teaching assistant in a special education class and also as an assistant girls' softball coach, said Gayle Pollard-Terry, a district spokeswoman. She said the district does not know where Salas worked prior to Fremont High.


LAUSD paid $40,000 to settle case with Miramonte teacher Mark Berndt

Miramonte Elementary teacher Mark Berndt

Miramonte Elementary teacher Mark Berndt. This photo was released by lawyers representing three alleged victims. They've filed a claim in preparation for a suit against L.A. Unified.

The Los Angeles Unified School District agreed last June to pay about $40,000 to settle its dismissal case against former Miramonte Elementary teacher Mark Berndt, who has since been charged with 23 counts of lewd conduct, including spoon-feeding his semen to children. 

The District suspended the former Miramonte Elementary School third-grade teacher last February, and initiated steps to fire him. According to district documents, the LAUSD had outlined three causes for Berndt's immediate dismissal and suspension in February: unprofessional conduct, immoral conduct and evident unfitness for service. Berndt fought the dismissal, taking it to the District's Office of Administrative Hearings.

In March, an attorney with Trygstad, Schwab & Trygstad, the firm representing Berndt, responded to the LAUSD's charges, arguing that the accusations are so “indefinite and uncertain” that she cannot prepare a defense, that Berndt is “fit to teach,” and the “charges fail to state any facts and are conclusive in nature,” according to the documents.


An 'us' versus 'them' mentality when it comes to sexual misconduct reports, attorney says


Tony Pierce / KPCC

Marquee out front of Hamilton High

An attorney representing alleged victims of former Hamilton High teacher Vance Miller says the district should do more to investigate claims of abuse, rather than challenge the credibility of those who come forward.

Miller was fired by the school board today after allegations of sexual misconduct with students. He and LAUSD have also both been named in a second civil lawsuit that was filed today charging sexual battery and negligence.

Miller was not available for comment. Attorney Drew Antablin, who the district hired to represent Miller, according to district documentation, said that he did not have a chance to review the second suit. Antablin did say, however, that he believes the alleged victim was or is a friend of the first alleged victim. Both alleged victims are men in their 30s now.