A settlement with an employee who accused formed LAUSD Sup. Ramon Cortines of sexual harassment may be coming apart at the seams over both the disputed terms of the agreement and the disclosure of the victim’s name by LAUSD without his consent, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday. The proposed settlement would have required the accuser to resign from his post in exchange for $200,000 and lifetime benefits.
The settlement proposal was announced by LAUSD before the victim had a chance to sign it. One point of contention was the value of the lifetime benefits, which the victim believes was agreed to be $300,000, whereas the district publicly announced a value of $250,000.
It was not clear from the Times article whether the victim has agreed to resign. State law prohibits an employer from firing an employee because he has filed sexual harassment charges against his employer, but they can tie a voluntary settlement to his resignation. However, considering that his yearly salary (not including benefits) was $150,000, it would not be surprising if he was unwilling to accept this conditon.
In related news, a delegation from the Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts met with Board of Education President Monica Garcia to request a name change for the school. While it is completely reasonable to not want one’s school named after an accused harasser, the controversy over the naming of this school has a longer and more sordid history. According to the Times, Garcia and her colleagues overrode an earlier pledge to give students, parents and teachers a say in the naming of their school, and then imposed the Cortines name on them. Now Garcia is ignoring parent’s and teacher’s claims that the stigma of the name is harming student and teacher morale, arguing that the school’s name is a good one since Cortines promoted the arts and played a key role in the development of the school.
It is disturbing and ironic that LAUSD fired the entire staff at one school because of the sexual misconduct of two teachers, yet just a few years earlier had actively covered up the sexual misconduct allegations against its own superintendent and then allowed him to retire with benefits (see here).