Laura Custodio, the dean of Porter Middle School (LAUSD), asked a 12-year-old boy with a history of discipline problems to act as a decoy buyer in an amateurish sting operation against an alleged student marijuana peddler on campus.
Porter Middle School is located in an affluent San Fernando Valley community and has relatively few disciplinary problems. The child exploited by Custodio had nonetheless been in trouble numerous times, but for relatively minor and mundane infractions like throwing water on another student and mocking an adult. Furthermore, his behavior had been improving. In fact, his parents claimed that their son had grown to like Custodio because she treated him fairly.
The boy was scared, he admitted in court, but felt pressured by the dean to “do the right thing.” The dean took advantage of the boy, using her power to discipline and the trust she had built with him, to place him in a potentially dangerous situation. The jury awarded the boy and his family over $1 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The dean continues to work for LAUSD, but was “demoted” to a classroom teacher.
The school's principal and vice principal were transferred from the school and soon retired. Both were aware of the sting operation and had given their approval.