Education

San Marino school board member faces sexual harassment investigation

Administrative offices of the San Marino Unified School District.
Administrative offices of the San Marino Unified School District.
Courtesy of San Marino Unified School District

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The San Marino Police Department and San Marino school officials say they are investigating school board member Christopher Norgaard after people came forward and accused Norgaard of sexual harassment.

“The District takes allegations of sexual harassment extremely seriously and is committed to providing a safe and respectful work environment for its employees," superintendent Alex Cherniss said in a written statement released Tuesday.

Cherniss said the allegations were made by at least two adult school district employees but would not explain what the employees allege Norgaard did.

“He’s not permitted on school property,” Cherniss said, and that includes school district administrative buildings.

In a news release, the San Marino Police Department said it opened a criminal battery investigation after it received the allegations from school district officials last Friday. Police asked anyone with further details about the allegations to contact the department. Battery is the unlawful use of force or violence by one person against another and is defined by a wide range of actions.

"I have no idea what this is about," Norgaard said in a telephone interview with KPCC. He said that police investigators have not contacted him and that Cherniss and the head of the school district's human resources told him about the allegations on January 22. 

"I've wracked my mind to think of something that could have been misconstrued," to lead to these allegations, he said, and news of the probes are hurting his reputation in the community. In the meantime, he added, he will continue to attend board meetings even though officials have told him he cannot be on school property or talk to employees. 

Norgaard was first elected to the San Marino school board in 2003 and won a third re-election in 2015. According to California Bar Association records, Norgaard began practicing law in California in 1979. He’s a graduate of Georgetown University’s law school.

In 2013, Norgaard wrote “Unfair Competition – Murder by Gunshot,” a non-fiction book about the downfall of the founders of the Neutrogena soap company that involved a murder-for-hire plot in Los Angeles.