Wednesday, March 7, 2012

LAUSD Lost Records of Accused Molester

Collective Punishment for Teachers and Children to Obscure District’s Culpability
As LAUSD continues its lame attempt at damage control, collectively punishing everyone at Miramonte Elementary School in a mass firing and banning blindfolding and food consumption throughout the district, more evidence is coming out that the district was asleep at the wheel, allowing potential molesters to continue working in its schools.

Paul Chapel recently pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of lewd behavior and sexual abuse of four students at his school. All were under the age of 14. In 1997, Chapel was accused of molesting an 8-year-old friend of his son who was sleeping at his house. LAUSD records show that the district alerted the state Commission on Teacher Credentialing CTC), which suspended his credential, while the district suspended him from work without pay. The jury couldn’t reach a verdict due to lack of physical evidence, prompting the CTC to reinstate his credential and LAUSD to give him back a job with back pay. Chapel’s LAUSD personnel records were incomplete when examined after the most recent allegations, as was the district’s response, according to the Los Angeles Times,

Personnel records of former Miramonte Elementary teacher Mark Berndt, who was accused this year of spoon-feeding his semen to blindfolded students, are also incomplete, containing no records of prior sexual abuse allegations, despite the fact that there were at least four unrelated past sex abuse allegations against him. In fact, the Los Angeles Times reports that LAUSD has no record that it ever conducted an internal investigation.

The Times article also mentioned the case of former Assistant Principal Steve Rooney, who allegedly waved a gun at a student's father. The Time suggests that a follow-up investigation would have revealed that Rooney was having sex with the student. Rooney eventually returned to work and was later convicted of molesting several students at Edwin Markham Middle School.

While the CTC and school districts have the obligation to honor teachers’ due process rights, they also have the obligation to fully investigate allegations of misconduct and to monitor the fitness of teachers. In Chapel’s case, his acquittal was due to incomplete evidence and the fact that it was only a child’s word against his—not a very compelling vindication. One would think that under these circumstances, LAUSD might have monitored the man closely and warned his site administrators to do likewise.

One would also hope that school districts would do a thorough job screening applicants prior to hiring them. This does not seem to be the case with Chapel, who was sued for making inappropriate and demeaning comments during a sexual education class at a school in the mid-1980s, prior to working for LAUSD. Though he eventually won a settlement with the school, he was compelled to leave. He listed the principal of his past school as reference when he applied to LAUSD, which either failed to talk to the principal or accepted incomplete or deceptive information.


  1. Thank you for a very astute and thoughtful reflection on this matter. It makes me think. Why isn't CTC viewing the credentials of the individual's involved in violating the laws about reporting offenders? Many people seem to assume its merely an oversight or incompetence, but this is not the case. Its corruption, as LAuSD is notoriously protective when it comes to potential lawsuits-and the precedent losing them sets. There is a conspiracy of silence about perverts on school sites and in the ld offices all the way up to Deasy's staff. It's not an accident he works so closely with the mercenaries in emp. Relations. Deasy's mission has always been teacher cleansing and like the supts before him, h has to protect the district from law suits and keep the spin controlled to serve his needs.
    No denying that he's managed to recover impressively after fumbling when he was bl ind sided by the news of Berndt's arrest in late JAN. the truth tumbled out about the way pedophiles, molestors and violent types are protected and in a sense rewarded for their crimes by LAUSD.
    Credentials are leverage retained illegally to convince the suspected sex offenders to resign with out contention. Something is insidous about the forged fils, the glowing letters of rec and the usual severance check of $20-50 k the offenders are offered when the ER finall get around to addressing their antics after the third complaint rolls in about inappropriate behavior. Instead of firing George Hernandez, an at will sub it seems, LAUSD took the memos out of this file , held his cred and convinced him to leave. He headed over to InglewodUSD , where he raped at least one small girl and went on the lam.
    We cannot ignore that LAUSD was complicit in his felonious and foul deeds. Unfortunately gov code 820 undermines the laws in place and permits district suits to act with impunity and even when these infractions are motivated by malice they are protected.
    It's great to know the state is auditing the files but it sounds to me that they are being too selective and will miss decades of offenders allowed to abuse power, children, circumstances , positions and good teachers who take a fall because someone has too. Sadly a teacher who is

  2. Probably part of the guy's "settlement"--actually a severance agreement--was to give him a good reference in exchange for him leaving. Typically the files are sealed. If the school district had badmouthed him to another employer, and we don't know all of the facts, by the way, the district would be up for yet another lawsuit. There is not anything a different school district can do about it.

    Civil suits involving teachers are often garbage peddled by greedy lawyers to get insurance payouts for their clients. I wouldn't be surprised the district was "embarrassed" by the suit and forced him to resign. Thanks to the watering down of attorney sanctions for frivolous lawsuits, they can make up anything and the teacher has absolutely no recourse to sue the attorney and the plaintiff. You don't mention whether or not the civil suit was settled out of court; I assume it was. In any case, they have little credibility compared to criminal charges.

    School districts don't regard an applicant for a teaching position having been named in civil actions as disqualifying. Civil suits naming teachers are routine and almost always are fabricated to get the insurance payout. This is why school districts very rarely ask an applicant for a teaching position if they have ever been named in a lawsuit involving a school district. I know this from personal experience. My case was settled without my knowledge or consent, and I cannot sue the plaintiff or attorney for defamation of character.