SANTA MONICA MALIBU UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT (SMMUSD) IRRESPONSIBILITY ENDANGERS OUR CHILDREN
The SMMUSD demonstrates a consistent pattern of evading responsibility for child safety. The SMMUSD has refused to answer questions about teachers who have sexually abused and sexually harassed children, failed to inform parents when their children have been victims of potentially criminal harassment, destroyed evidence concerning harassment of children, asked parents to destroy emails and not talk to each other about teacher sexual harassment of children, removed evidence of child abuse from its own records, impugned the testimony of its own employees who report child abuse, ordered teacher's aides to not talk to parents, tried to intimidate students and parents, tried to mislead parents about their legal rights, publicly misrepresented its own legal obligations, and violated California state law.
1. In November 2011, the parents of four children accused Jennifer Becker, Juan Cabrillo Elementary special education teacher, of abusing their children. Four teacher's aides witnessed these actions and the case is being investigated by the Los Angeles County Special Victims Bureau. SMMUSD administrators responded to only one of the many reported incidents and ignored the others. Sara Woolverton, SMMUSD special education director, told parents that the four teacher's aides are not credible because they are committing a "mutiny."
2. In May 2011, two Santa Monica HS students on the wrestling team locked an African American teammate to a locker, shouting "Slave for sale" and displaying a noose. They are currently being investigated on hate crime charges. Santa Monica HS administrators failed to inform the victim's mother of the incident, tried to intimidate the victim by telling him that the wrestling program might be canceled, and destroyed cell phone pictures taken by other students of the noose.
3. Ari Marken, Santa Monica HS teacher, sexually harassed a thirteen-year-old girl in December 2008. The SMMUSD has refused to release any information about Mr. Marken's violation, in violation of California state law, and illegally delayed its response in order to allow Mr. Marken to try to stop or further delay the release of this information.
4. Thomas Beltran, former Lincoln MS teacher, was convicted in December 2008 of sexually molesting eleven Lincoln students over a period of more than ten years. However, a student complained about Mr. Beltran two years earlier, in March 2006. Even though this March 2006 complaint was serious enough to deserve a police investigation, the SMMUSD removed all records of this complaint and claimed complete ignorance after Mr. Beltran was arrested. The SMMUSD has refused to answer any questions about its handling of the March 2006 complaint.
5. Carl Hammer, former Santa Monica HS band director, was convicted of a felony involving a fourteen-year-old girl in June 2005. After he was fired from his position in the SMMUSD, he continued to be paid by the Santa Monica HS band program to write musical arrangements for the band, using money from parent donations, with the full knowledge of SMMUSD administrators. No SMMUSD staff member has ever taken responsibility for re-hiring Dr. Hammer after his conviction.
6. Mike Hearn, former Santa Monica HS assistant coach, was convicted in October 2005 on nine sex-related felony charges involving two 15-year-old Santa Monica HS students and another 17-year-old girl.
7. The agreement between the SMMUSD and the SMMCTA (teachers' union) states that if a student who complains against a teacher does not agree to meet with the teacher, then no record of the student's complaint can be kept in the teacher's personnel file. This is a license for intimidation and violates California state law.
8. According to figures released by the SMMUSD, in the 2010-11 school year, SMMUSD employees reported an astonishing 95 suspected cases of child abuse: 13 cases of sexual abuse, 54 of physical abuse, 8 of general neglect and 20 of emotional abuse (see table below from SMMUSD board agenda, November 20, 2011).
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