“We also take seriously our obligation to ensure that our employees behave ethically.”
-LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines
With Rafe Esquith’s attorney once again drawing attention to unethical use of Teacher Jail, the district turned to the propaganda arm of the ed “reform” movement to turn the tide. Last Friday, the LA School report ran an article entitled “Most in LAUSD ‘jail’ facing charges of sexual misconduct, violence.” While the District will often refuse to tell effected teachers why they have been removed from the classroom, they were willing to give the LAUSD’s version of FOX News a “comprehensive breakdown of misconduct allegations being investigated by the district’s Student Safety Investigative Team.” Of the 174 employees caught in the purgatory of Teacher Jail, 65 were being investigated for sexual abuse or harassment and 55 were in the system for accusations involving violence. The remaining 54 employees were accused of infractions that did not involve the direct safety of the students of the district.
While the LAUSD may think that throwing around terms like “sexual misconduct” and “violence” diminishes the criticisms of their use of Teacher Jail, it actually brings up even more questions in the mind of this parent. For example, why is the district even getting involved in the investigation of these incidents? Any act involving an adult, sex or violence and a student is a crime and should be immediately reported to the police. No one is going to complain about a teacher being removed from the classroom while law enforcement is conducting an investigation.
The District also has not explained why the 31% of employees in Teacher Jail whose actions do not involve violence or sex needed to be removed from their job sites. Instead of paying them not to do their jobs, why not allow them to continue teaching and place a second set of eyes in classroom while the investigation is being conducted? Under the current program they are paying a substitute, so the alternative method would not increase costs. It would, however, prevent disruptions in the education of the students in the class.
It is interesting that the person leading the district is not one of those languishing in Teacher Jail despite the sexual harassment charges that have been leveled against him. In fact, he was hired to run the district even though these accusations were open from his last turn as Superintendent. Ironically, as Cortines was writing the Washington Post to tell them that “nothing, and I mean nothing, will stand in the way of making sure our students and school communities are safe,” his alleged victim, Scot Graham, was filing another lawsuit against the district. This one claims that he was fired in retaliation for bringing his initial claims against Cortines and the district. Apparently, what is good for the teachers and staff of the district does not apply to the Superintendent.
Also lost in the stench of the District’s publicity machine, was a report that after months of investigation, the “inspector general can’t say whether there was criminal wrongdoing” in the Food Services department. Once again, I need to ask why the LAUSD is making this determination instead of law enforcement officials. It is unclear if Director David Binkle was included in accounting provided to the LA School Report for those sitting in Teacher Jail, but since December 4, he has been collecting his $152,000 a year salary as he sits home on paid leave. Is this how the district ensures that employees behave ethically?