Southern California breaking news and trends

Abuse accusations didn't stop LAUSD substitute teacher from teaching in Inglewood

An LAUSD substitute teacher was investigated three times for sexual misconduct with students before he quit in 2007 to work for the Inglewood Unified School District, the L.A. Times reported today.

George Hernandez, 45, was never arrested or charged in the LAUSD cases.

But when the third investigation was completed, Hernandez quit teaching in L.A. and started working for the Inglewood Unified School District.

There, he taught for nearly three years before police found a videotape they say shows him molesting a second-grade girl at school in Inglewood. He was charged, but fled, and is a fugitive.

"This is an outrage," Kathleen Carroll, an attorney who worked for the state Commission on Teacher Credentialing, told the Times.

A few other points from the Times story:

• LAUSD could find no evidence it reported Hernadez to the state credentialing commission, which would have prevented him from working in other districts.

• The Inglewood school district broke its own policy by not doing a full background check on Hernandez.

• The mother of the Inglewood girl is suing, alleging that LAUSD is liable for not taking action against Hernandez.

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The happiest spray on earth? Disney altercation video raises security questions

tower of terror disney

Photo by Missy Martinez via Flickr Creative Commons

A four-minute, profanity-heavy altercation between a seemingly drunk man and an employee of Disney's California Adventure was recorded Saturday afternoon by a park visitor.

The incident occurred near the "Tower of Terror" attraction where the suspect is seen punching, kicking, and grabbing a costumed park worker -- dressed as a bellhop in a straw hat -- who was attempting to subdue him with a repellent spray.

Despite long blasts to the face, the happiest spray on Earth administered by the Disney employee did very little to stop the suspect, who continued to curse and fight and ultimately knock the employee to the ground.

The suspect -- 53-year-old Glenn Horlacher -- was eventually restrained on the ground by two guests until authorities arrived. He was arrested for battery and assault by Anaheim police, booked into jail, and later released on a citation.

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Well, well, well... EPA digs for chromium-6 in Burbank and Glendale

well

Photo by Mark Kelley via Flickr Creative Commons

The San Fernando Valley's aero-tech industry may have been dismantled decades ago but its carcinogens live on in local water wells. 

Chromium-6, the toxic contaminant brought to widespread attention by Erin Brockovich, has been detected in groundwater, however the extent of contamination in unknown.

In an effort to determine the reach of the underground spread, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will be installing thirty wells in Glendale and Burbank "to figure out whether the areas [where] we don't have wells have contamination," EPA project manager Lisa Hanusiak told the L.A. Times

Data from the new wells will enhance the picture already being developed from the area's existing monitoring stations. For the next two years, groundwater samples will be collected by the EPA every three months, according to a city report.

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LADWP lights go out for 60,000 Westside customers

lightbulb terrarium

Photo by Jennifer Feuchter via Flickr Creative Commons

Lightbulb terrarium.

A power outage darkened a large portion of Los Angeles' Westside on Tuesday. 

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power told KPCC that 60,000 customers saw their electricity service interrupted in Venice, Westchester, Playa del Rey and surrounding areas.

The utility was restored to the majority of the affected areas within 13 minutes, however crews are responding to the 8,600 customers still without power.

Supply disruption to a main hub receiving station is being blamed for the blackout. It was unknown what caused the disruption.

LAX was affected in the short ordeal, but all power has been restored to the airport, according to the LADWP spokesperson.

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Former Miramonte teacher Mark Berndt pleads not guilty (updated)

Mark Berndt

L.A. Sheriff's Department

Accused teacher Mark Berndt.

Former Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt, looking disheveled but confident, pleaded not guilty in court today on charges of committing lewd acts against 23 children from 2005 to 2010.

The former teacher is charged with taking bizarre, bondage-style photographs of his grade-school students in a case that has brought shock and outrage to LAUSD.

Berndt, who was a teacher for more than 30 years at Miramonte Elementary, has been jailed since his Jan. 31 arrest. 

His attorney, Victor Acevedo, made three requests at the arraignment – to reduce Berndt's  $23 million bail; to get a full copy of the district attorney's file on the investigation into Berndt, including all 600 photographs depicting Berndt's alleged crimes; and to ensure that Berndt is treated fairly in jail, where Acevedo alleges sheriff's deputies have called Berndt a child molester over a loud speaker.

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