Marsha Sutton
Jury returns verdict that
actions reported are not
against the law...or does it?
San Diego Union Tribune  
April 3, 2003
It appears that the jury in a case
concerning Alvin Dunn Elementary
School in San Marcos actually
believed that school's actions were
illegal, but that  they wanted to
protect school finances.  Sadly, all
they achieved was to make sure that
schools pay large amounts of
taxpayer dollars to lawyers instead of
paying moderate amounts to victims.

This San Diego Union Tribune article
notes, “…jurors told [Shannon
Peterson] outside court that they
didn't approve of the way the boy was
treated, but were concerned about
hurting school finances. “

Perhaps the jury did not realize that
the school district may end up paying
more to lawyers than they would pay
to victims as a result of their lawyers
refusal to settle cases.  Also, the
resulting tendency of schools not to
fix problems may lead to more
problems and more payments to

North County Times April 14, 2005
Jack Sleeth says that actions
reported by whistle-blowers
are not against the law.
This article says, “A 10-year-old
classroom helper saw Priest grab
Austin out of a swing by the arm and
shake him, Leavitt said. And still
another will say they saw Priest bend
Jessica's fingers back to her wrist to
get her to color, the attorney told the
jury. Leavitt told jurors that parents
and teachers reported their concerns
to the school principal, Jan Zelasko,
but that no action was taken.”

North County Times May 6, 2005
Jack Sleeth and Escondido
Union School District
Teachers Abusing Students
Do school districts protect teachers at the expense of

By Jennifer Smith Richards and Jill Riepenhoff

Ohio's largest school districts investigated dozens of teachers for victimizing
students last year but disciplined relatively few, even when allegations were

The state rarely learned about the wrongdoing that schools discovered.

Districts showed that they regularly acted as maverick detectives and
disciplinarians by handling problem teachers on their own, sometimes even
after a state law went into effect in March that required them to report when
teachers misbehave.

That means that, in many cases, the state didn't get the opportunity to
decide whether it should suspend or revoke the educators' licenses --
actions that districts can't take.

A Dispatch analysis of last school year's teacher investigations in the state's
10 largest districts found:

• The state knew of fewer than 22 percent of the 189 disciplinary
investigations conducted by the districts.

• Nearly 40 percent of investigations involved student abuse -- cases in
which educators were accused of hitting, shoving, swearing at or harassing

• The state was more likely to know about teachers accused of cheating on
state tests than those accused of abusing students. The Ohio Department of
Education has confirmed it is aware of 10 of the 74 student-abuse
investigations that districts conducted. By comparison, five of eight
educators accused of cheating are either under investigation by the state or
have been punished already.

Two Cleveland teachers, Roderick Vaughn and Constance Deminsky, were
fired last school year for "corporal punishment." Both had histories of anger
issues and previously had been reprimanded by the district.

Columbus City Schools aide Ethel M. Johnson was fired for slapping a
special-education student in the face. She denies the abuse, which brought
no criminal charges...

[Maura Larkins' note:  
In San Diego county, teachers do lots worse than this, and instead of
being fired, SDCOE-JPA pays lawyers millions to help them get away
with it.]
Do taxpayers pay
lawyers to help
bullies/abusers get
away with their
When Teachers Abuse Power

by Heather Johnson
Monday, August 18, 2008

Teaching is a noble profession, one
that demands a great deal of patience
and flexibility. A teacher plays
different roles in the lives of students;
besides giving them an education,
they also act as guides and mentors.
Children spend most of their waking
hours at school, which is why it’s
important for teachers to be
accessible to the students not just as
educators but also as a friend. While
there are some teachers who live in
your memory as the ones that did
make a huge positive impact, there
are others who are remembered for
reasons that are both shameful and a
disgrace to the field of education as a

Teachers are given a degree of
power over the students they teach –
they are trusted by both the school
authorities and the children’s parents
to use that power judiciously and for
the general good of the children. But
there are some bad eggs who give
the entire teaching fraternity a bad
name; they’re the ones who use their
position and authority for their own
purposes, some more horrendous
than others.

We routinely hear of teachers
sexually abusing children in their
care; some of them are so perverted
that they film their dirty deeds and sell
them for profits. As if this were not
enough, they hold the threat of bad
grades over their students’ heads if
they tell anyone what happened.
Statistics state that around 5 percent
of teachers and coaches abuse
minors, but this is not a true reflection
of the state of events. The number of
incidents that are unreported are
much more than those that are. Most
students are afraid to come out in the
open fearing the repercussions – the
ostracism from their peers, the future
of their education and the effect the
media impact would have on their
lives and that of their loved ones.

Abuse need not be sexual to be
detrimental to the well-being of
students – some teachers send
children on the wrong path by
encouraging them to smoke, drink
and do drugs. Others play favorites in
a blatant manner, with the students
who are affected being powerless to
do anything to bring the offenders to

The reason that such incidents are
widespread is that most students look
up to their teachers and are willing to
go to any lengths so that they are not
disappointed in them. A subtle word
here and a small hint there are
enough to make these immature
minds fall prey to the more cunning
brains of their educators. The only
way to prevent this from happening to
your child is to educate him/her in the
ways of the world and warn them of
the dangers that could befall them if
they are not careful. Parents must
play an active role in every aspect of
their children’s lives and encourage
them to report any untoward incident,
no matter how trivial it may seem.

This post was contributed by
Heather Johnson, who writes on
the subject of top online college.
She invites your feedback at
heatherjohnson2323 at gmail dot
Various stories about
teacher abuse of students
can be found at
Teacher Magazine
The Teacher Effect
By Deborah Hansen
June 11, 2008

“Now, would you read that paragraph again so we can understand it this
time?” My 5th grade teacher stood in front of the class with her hands on
her hips as she threw these cutting words across the room. I had just read
a section from the daily “out loud” and now the boy behind me was being
directed to read the same paragraph again. Her words slashed through my
soul and the humiliation I felt that day is as fresh and hot as if it had
happened this morning...

What that teacher couldn’t possibly know that day was that her
thoughtlessness would prompt me to set a career path to make sure no
other child would face such humiliation. I became a teacher. For 15 years, I
dedicated myself to the philosophy that a teacher is one of the most
important people in a child’s life. Our words and our attitudes have a lasting
impact on the minds and the souls of the children who are placed in our
paths every day. We must treat these hearts and souls with the tender care
that such a precious gift deserves.

We never know the damage that has already been done to a child when
they take a seat in our classroom. We can’t take the chance that a child
may already be teetering on the brink, suffering from abusive relationships
or the effects of poverty. We can’t truly know what they face at home every
day when they are out of our sight. Our thoughtless, painful words might be
the ones that push that child over the edge..
Albert Truitt case
Schools and Violence
Evaluating teachers
Teacher Acquitted of Sex Abuse Entitled to
Costs, Court Says
By Mark Walsh
Education Week
February 7, 2011

A former Utah middle school teacher who was acquitted on charges of
sexually abusing one of her students is entitled under a state law to be
reimbursed for her attorney's fees and court costs, the state's highest court
has ruled.

The Salt Lake City school district had sought to bar the ex-teacher, Shelly
Acor, from recovering the costs because it argued she had acknowledged
an inappropriate relationship with the student.

But the Utah Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Acor's case was
covered by the state reimbursement statute, which is meant to help public
employees recover costs if they are acquitted of criminal charges for any
actions taken in the scope of their employment or under the "color" of their

According to court papers, a former student alleged that she had a sexual
relationship with Acor for several years, beginning when the student was in
7th grade in 1995. When Acor was confronted with the allegations in 2005,
she resigned her teaching job and told the district superintendent that
"there was a relationship and it was totally inappropriate."

The police seized a journal from Acor's home, and a prosecutor later said in
court papers that the journal corroborated many of the student's
allegations. But the journal and Acor's statement to the superintendent
were excluded from her criminal trial, and in 2007 the teacher was acquitted
by a jury of all the sex abuse charges against her.

Acor sued the district a short time later, seeking reimbursement of her
attorney's fees and court costs. (The state Supreme Court's opinion did not
discuss what those costs totaled.) A state trial court denied the
reimbursement, but in a Jan. 28 decision, the state Supreme Court ruled for
the teacher.

"The Reimbursement Statute leaves no room for a court to question the
propriety of an acquittal, ... much less an employee's worthiness for
reimbursement on the basis of an unspecified 'inappropriate' relationship,"
the state high court said in Acor v. Salt Lake City School District. "The
district's strongly held and presumably sincere belief in Acor's guilt cannot
defeat her right to reimbursement under the statute."

The court said it was clear that the charges against Acor arose out of her
job-related activities and duties. It declined to apply a line of state and
federal cases in which school districts and other public agencies were held
not to be vicariously liable for sexual abuse by their employees because
such actions were not part of their job-related duties.

The court said the Utah statute requires reimbursement once a public
employee is acquitted of criminal charges, unless the employee is found
guilty of substantially similar charges or the charges are dropped by
Five Practices for
Building Positive
Relationships With
By Kelley Clark
Education Week
August 2012

...Never let the other students
see you react inappropriately to
a student's comment.

I'll never forget the moment
when I realized that this was a
critical part of forming a positive
relationship with the students in
my class.

Andrew, a junior who definitely
marched to the beat of his own
drum and had trouble fitting in,
raised his hand to answer a
question. His response was not
only incorrect—it was something
he should have known. The
room became silent. Students
began glancing around and
grinning awkwardly. Every eye in
that classroom was on me.

In that moment, I knew that I
could not let my eyes veer even
slightly from Andrew's, nor could
I allow the merest hint of a smile
to show. Yes, by looking at the
other students with a smirk, a
pitiful face, or a confused look, I
could have "bonded" with the
class. I could have been part of
the group that "got it" and knew
Andrew's answer was off.
Instead, I looked only at Andrew,
thanked him for answering,
responded quickly, and moved

In a single moment, all 26 kids in
that class learned three
important things: 1) No matter
how foolish your answer is, you
will not be ridiculed in this class;
2) All of my students are equally
important to me; and 3) While I
want to have a close relationship
with you, it will never be at the
expense of another student...
San Diego Education Report
San Diego
Education Report
San Diego Education Report
San Diego
Education Report
Elementary teacher was abusive, parents say
Humiliation of kids should be reported beyond administrators, they contend
Aaron Burgin
Nov. 21, 2012

SAN DIEGO — For five years, a group of parents complained that one Hardy
Elementary teacher’s behavior toward students went beyond discipline — they
said it was abuse.

According to their children, the teacher would hurl books across the class or
publicly humiliate kids who had body odor by spraying them with aerosol. The
teacher would instruct classmates to “think bad thoughts” about students who
misbehaved, forgot homework or did poorly on an assignment.

The parents complained to the College Area school principal and followed up
with a written complaint to the district. Eventually they were told their complaints
lacked merit.

Now, the parents are pressing for the San Diego Unified School District to take
a stronger stance against emotional abuse — with steps including reporting
accused teachers to law enforcement for investigation.

Although that might sound excessive for a teacher who never laid a hand on a
student — and in fact, nonphysical abuse is a crime that’s rarely, if ever,
prosecuted — state law and district policy call for just that response.

“The district administrators have turned their backs on our kids,” said Susan
Hopps-Tatum, who has emerged as parent advocate for the district to better
address cases of reported abuse by its employees. “Emotional abuse has as
much of an effect on our children as physical abuse, and the district fails to
recognize this.”

The state penal code includes emotional abuse in its definition of child abuse
and requires teachers and administrators to report even suspected abuse to
child welfare or the police.

According to the school district’s administrative code, “Examples of emotional
abuse include such things as belittling, screaming, threats, blaming and

School district and law enforcement officials would not comment on the specific
complaints by the Hardy parents.

They did say the requirement for reporting emotional child abuse is not nearly
as clear cut as the parents are reading it.

Area Superintendent David Lorden, who reviewed the Hardy complaints, told
The Watchdog he believes the district has the right to conduct its own inquiry to
determine if a case “rises to the level of abuse.”

“Until we prove otherwise, they are just allegations,” Lorden said. “It can’t be
like, ‘I don’t like the way my teacher talked to my child.’”

That process — letting district officials conduct their own review and decide
whether to involve other authorities— seems to be the prevailing practice.

Officials with the San Diego City Attorney’s Office, which would prosecute local
emotional abuse cases, said it has never handled a straight emotional abuse

“When we do handle those cases, they are usually the underlying count of a
sexual, spousal or physical abuse case,” said Gina Coburn, spokeswoman for
Jan Goldsmith’s office. “There hasn’t been one tried by itself.”

Judith Neufeld-Hernandez, a substitute teacher who pulled her son out of San
Diego schools in response to his complaints about the Hardy teacher, said her
son would beg his parents on Sunday nights not to make him go to school on

“He told me that being in her class was like being a gladiator: You don’t know
whether you are going to the lion’s den or if it will be your classmate,” Neufeld-
Hernandez said.

Hardy Principal Kathy Wolfe declined to comment. A reporter was not allowed to
speak to the teacher involved in the complaint. The U-T is withholding the
teacher’s name because the district deemed the complaint unsubstantiated.

School district officials said they do not track complaints against teachers. They
said the language of the law gives the district latitude in responding.

“To some parents, if their kid gets screamed at by their teacher, they consider
that abuse,” district spokeswoman Linda Zintz said. “If we were to report each of
these complaints, law enforcement would be inundated.”

Rod Pacheco, the state assemblyman who sponsored the bill updating the state’
s child abuse and mandated reporter laws, said school officials have a duty to
report teacher behavior such as what was alleged at Hardy to authorities.

“You’re not entitled to do things like that; it’s not 1910 anymore,” Pacheco said.
“It’s 2012. You just don’t get to treat kids that way.”

Pacheco, who handled several high-profile sexual abuse cases during his
tenure as Riverside County’s district attorney, disagreed with school officials’
interpretation of the law.

“Clearly, they are not supposed to be evaluating the complaint,” Pacheco said.
“If some child says, ‘Teacher X has abused me,’ it is not incumbent on them to
decide if that is true. That is not the foundation of whether they report it.

“When they get a complaint they have a duty to report it, period. If it is false, the
authorities will determine it is false.”

Zintz said the district believes that its employees abide by the mandated-
reporter requirements. She also said that the school district recently changed
its policy so that staff members are required to receive training from someone
other than the school’s principal on these issues.

“The district takes the issue of child abuse very seriously,” Zintz said. “School
employees including teachers, aides, classified employees, school police and
administrators are mandated reporters of suspected child abuse. Failure to
report any instance of child abuse or neglect may result in criminal, civil or
professional liability.”


Judy Neufeld-Fernandez · University of Northern Colorado
To All Who've Posted Here: If you care about kids and are unsettled by what is
going on in OUR district, please write your elected official. Click this link to find
contact information for officials:

A personal, hand written letter makes a very POWERFUL impact on politicians.
Let your voice be heard. Kids are in need of proper representation. Teachers
have very powerful and influential unions and kids have NO organized, powerful
voice in how they are treated. Adults must stand up for children to break these
abusive cycles.
Reply · Like · Follow Post · 53 minutes ago
Judy Neufeld-Fernandez · University of Northern Colorado
This article wasn't able to cover everything the reporter uncovered: it did not
mention another atrocity that occurs throughout SDUSD: THAT OF DENYING
defecating in their clothing being denied restroom access. Can you imagine
TOP ADMINSTRATORS being treated in such a manner? Top administrators
and not 1912? This is an outrage. Parents tend not to make too big a deal of it
because they worry their kids will suffer further public humiliation and staff
cover for the offenders time and time again. I taught since 1988, except for
years to raise babies, I NEVER experienced a student of mine having an
"accident" in class. A rational citizen would think a district that is being sued for
the Patrick Henry "Pee in a bucket" teacher would DO SOMETHING ABOUT
Reply · Like · Follow Post · 2 hours ago

    Judy Neufeld-Fernandez · University of Northern Colorado
    I apologize for the grammar of the above post....colons where there should
have been periods. Still adjusting to a brand new smaller keyboard.
    Reply · Like · 2 hours ago
Patti Tippit Crandall · University of California, Santa Barbara
I learned a long time ago that you have to noisey and persistent when it comes
to your children. The most embarrassing thing for the schools is to get a news
station involved. Don't give up and don't listen to someone who says you are
trying to be a "friend" to your child. That's just a lazy comment from a parent
who doesn't want or understand what it means to be a parent.
Reply · 1 · Like · Follow Post · 2 hours ago
    Maura Larkins · UCLA
    You're right, school administrators don't like to be in the news in a negative

    Teacher Jenny Mo in West Contra Costa Unified (Richmond, California)
threatened to call the media about bullying in her elementary school, and was
placed on administrative leave, and when she didn't leave right away, the
district called the police and she was led away in handcuffs in front of her

    The tactic backfired on the district when the story hit the national news.

    Jenny was jailed with bail set at $950,000, calculated at $50,000 for holding
each of her 19 students "hostage." After a week the D.A. determined that Jenny
had committed no crime.

    Interestingly, the Asst. Supt. for human resources who was in charge is the
very same man who caused huge problems at Castle Park Elementary in Chula
    Reply · Like · 2 seconds ago
Danielle Austin · San Diego, California
There is a teacher in a SDUSD middle school who belittles special education
mainstreamed students by making them pick up trash off the floor since "they
are going to fail all tests anyway", and other quiet but demeaning acts. The
administration is afraid if they call attention to her tactics she will slap them with
race discrimination. Meanwhile, many of the children suffer in silence.
Reply · Like · Follow Post · 3 hours ago
    Susan Hopps
    Danielle, please report this to the City Attorney's office, child abuse division.
Special Education kids are even more at risk because many of them cannot
speak up or process the verbal abuse.
    Reply · 1 · Like · 3 hours ago
    Judy Neufeld-Fernandez · University of Northern Colorado
    Danielle, please also contact the Office of Civil Rights, as they cover kids
who've been identified special needs. You might get a favorable response.
Please do not stop standing up for these kids. They are children and unable to
advocate for themselves. They need a powerful adult voice to tirelessly fight for
their rights to be treated with dignity and respect. This is horrific maltreatment
of ANY child.
    Reply · 1 · Like · 2 hours ago
Barbara Stevens · Top Commenter · San Diego, California
“To some parents, if their kid gets screamed at by their teacher, they consider
that abuse,” district spokeswoman Linda Zintz said. “If we were to report each of
these complaints, law enforcement would be inundated.”.

I say we all look up Lina Zintz's phone number and start leaving her some
wonderfully LOUD and belittiling messages so she can complain all she wants
to and be ignored and told her feelings don't matter.

I think she would greatly appreciate all that attention, don't you? And let's find
that teacher's name, and do the same thing. I wonder how long this teacher
would think it was ok?
Reply · 3 · Like · Follow Post · 4 hours ago
Maura Larkins · UCLA
Here we have yet another reason why schools should conduct meaningful
evaluations of teachers. The current system is a joke. Evaluations by principals
are virtually useless because they are compromised by school politics. Many
abusive teachers are protected by administrators and the teachers union.
Outsiders should be coming in to schools and observing teachers, and the
observations should be stepped up when the question of abuse arises, to
protect both students and teachers.
Reply · 5 · Unlike · Unfollow Post · 15 hours ago
    Natalie Aguirre Jenkins · Top Commenter · School of Hard Knocks,
University of Life
    I completely agree with you. This is the truest statement I have read on this
topic. Having seen this first hand, what I can honestly say in addition to this
what you suggest, that ETHICS are taught and ask required of. The lack of
ethics on the part of all those who do these things, those who know about then
and those who look the other way, often the Admin.
    Reply · Like · 12 hours ago
    Barbara Stevens · Top Commenter · San Diego, California
    I know what you are saying, but "teaching ethics" to adults is a great big
helping of "too little too late." I have a feeling this particualr teacher has been
shielded by admins or would have been disciplined for this some time ago.
    Reply · Like · 4 hours ago
    Judy Neufeld-Fernandez · University of Northern Colorado
    Barbara, you called it correctly. One principal shielded kids from direct
access to this educator by placing her in a peer coaching type position. One
principal LEFT the school, largely due to how difficult she was to control. The
current principal implores parents to BELIEVE in her ability to teach the 30 year
plus veteran how to not be abusive! As for the teacher herself, she believes her
methodology is effective. Even though we know several children who've needed
therapy after being in her class! Alan McEvoy and Stan Davis have done
excellent research on teachers who bully for those interested in learning more.
    Reply · Like · 40 minutes ago
Judy Neufeld-Fernandez · University of Northern Colorado
CHILD ADVOCATES FOLLOWING THIS STORY: You as a citizen are invited to
Hardy Elementary School's Site Safety Plan meeting to be held on February 25,
2013 at 2:40 pm at 5420 Montezuma Road.
The topic will be a public review of Hardy's School Site Safety Plan. Under law
the public is to be made aware of this meeting and is allowed input into how
best to meet current, site specific needs. Key among these is the reporting of
suspected abusive behavior applicable to ALL adults.
Reply · 2 · Like · Follow Post · 16 hours ago
Judy Neufeld-Fernandez · University of Northern Colorado
Edward, thank you for your passion about elevating our legitimate concerns.
What we have found is that there isn't an agency for parents to report this
abuse that is responsive and holds any power over the district. The CAL DEPT
OF ED has found Hardy's Site Council NON COMPLIANT in that their SITE
SAFETY PLAN does not include the mandated child abuse reporting
procedures nor the staff training of such. The CDE just slaps the school on the
wrist and tells them to fix it next year. Child Protective Services won't respond.
They only react to PHYSICAL evidence ie broken bones, bruises etc. Most
parents are terrified to take a REAL stand because they see that concerned
parents are vilified by administration. There comes a point when you realize you
are complaining to the caretakers of your children about the caretakers. Most
parents won't go down that road. Those that do are finding they have to pull
their kids from public ed and privately educate them. It is very, very, very
difficult to affect change in this system. I have a masters in the system. I have a
masters in Educational Leadership, my husband was a district administrator in a
neighboring district and we completely failed to make things safer for kids at
Reply · 1 · Like · Follow Post · 16 hours ago
Verenice Yazarac Dennis Mendoza
This is not the only case and is so sad that is going keep happening till city
schools disapears and become charter so so sad the values, morals are
almost gone i dont know how can i help anymore
Reply · 1 · Like · Follow Post · 16 hours ago
    Judy Neufeld-Fernandez · University of Northern Colorado
    This is an overwhelming, but solvable problem. Good folks like yourself ARE
doing something. Your post is one more voice for sanity to prevail in a corrupt
system that is currently getting away with HARMING some children. You can
write the editor of the UT expressing your concern for the current status quo in
SDUSD. Also, writing your public representative a hand written note of why
LIFO: the Last In First Out process of laying off teachers based SOLELY on
tenure is NOT serving kids well. When Californians finally take a stand for KIDS
and get rid of LIFO at the legislative level we will be making HUGE inroads into
protecting children. Already Nevada, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Tenn.,
Connecticut and Georgia have ELIMINATED LIFO! There is a trend to return to
sanity when it comes to administering our educational systems. The current
practice allows LAWBREAKERS to continue employment by hiding behind
onerous employment rights and WEAK administrators who lack all moral
    Reply · Like · about an hour ago
Susan Hopps
If you feel convicted Edward, please write a letter to the editor. You are right
and families have been trying to band together. As you can tell by the
numerous comments, the climate and culture of non-reporting by MANDATED
reporters for fear or complicity is rampant, despite being illegal. All teachers,
administrators, and school staff working with children are mandated reporters of
ANY suspected child abuse, yet children go unprotected, even by those in the
highest levels of SDUSD Administration. The top administrators at SDUSD know
of these on-going allegations yet have not reported them for ACTUAL
investigation by those given authority to do so by the California State Penal
Code, not school police and certainly not school administrators.
Reply · Like · Follow Post · 16 hours ago
Edward Pollack · Top Commenter · Eastern Military Academy
The parents whose children were abused by this teacher need to ban
together. Collect HARD evidence by any means possible. Then since they have
already approached the school authorities, they need to take it a step higher.
They need to make this abuse public by any means possible. Flyers, videos,
reports to the news media, social networks, etc. They also need to seek legal
counsel for any legal remedies possible. These school officials who are
covering this up MUST be punished and their misdeeds made public through all
media possible. Do NOT take this lying down. Why else was it going on for 15
Reply · Like · Follow Post · 18 hours ago
    Barbara Stevens · Top Commenter · San Diego, California
    Too many within the educational community feel that students are the least
important aspect of their job.
    Reply · Like · 4 hours ago
    Edward Pollack · Top Commenter · Eastern Military Academy
    That is why the parents must be united in all their efforts. United the parents
stand, divided the children lose!
    Reply · Like · 3 hours ago
    Susan Hopps
    Yes! I agree 100%! Some parents are so scared that they and their children
will be relatiated against they don't speak out. Many saw how badly the active
parents who DID speak out were treated by the Hardy Principal that they just
quietly agreed but wouldn't take a stand. Half of the PTA parent leaders
resigned to focus on child safety on the campus. That shold tell you something
right there....
    Reply · Like · about an hour ago
Barb McCormick
Reply · Like · Follow Post · 19 hours ago
Judy Neufeld-Fernandez · University of Northern Colorado
Isn't it concerning that complaints of abuse are not tracked by such a large
district, or any district for that matter? Isn't this 2012? Try to navigate the
system as a parent advocating safety issues...issues covered by law but not
enacted in practice. It is impossible to get a good result with current
administration. Try filing a police report with SDUSD police. Did you know they
are PAID by the district? Isn't that a conflict? Try going to city police. They kick
back to SDUSD. Parent complaints get lost in an ineffectual bureaucracy of
folks who are into preserving their own employment status and are NOT looking
to uphold current law intended to protect kids. Our mistake? We didn't mic our
kid to catch her tirades of abuse.
Reply · 4 · Like · Follow Post · 20 hours ago
    Natalie Aguirre Jenkins · Top Commenter · School of Hard Knocks,
University of Life
    well said and great questions for a FOLLOW UP ARTICLE ON THIS TOPIC
    Reply · 1 · Like · 12 hours ago
Leslie Wolf Branscomb · Top Commenter
This IS abuse. The problem is the attitude of the schools that they can't do
anything about it if the teacher doesn't actually touch the child. My kids have
been in 6 different schools over the years and it seems like every school has
one or two "screamers" and everyone knows who they are -- teachers who
scream, belittle, berate kids and even throw things. If any of us in any other line
of work were to scream at or belittle our co-workers or customers, we'd be fired
in a heartbeat. I assume these teachers do it because they know nothing will
happen to them.
Reply · 2 · Like · Follow Post · 20 hours ago
    Barbara Stevens · Top Commenter · San Diego, California
    Evidently you are right.
    Reply · Like · 4 hours ago
London Michael · Subscribe · Top Commenter
Bloody phone!
Reply · Like · Follow Post · 21 hours ago
London Michael · Subscribe · Top Commenter
Sounds like their not learning discipline at home, sure differently to learn
(perhaps a little differently)
Reply · Like · Follow Post · 21 hours ago
Tracy McPherson · Top Commenter
I saw and heard of this type of abuse in classrooms in Hawaii a letter to the
State Superintendent of schools made a huge difference.
Reply · 1 · Like · Follow Post · 22 hours ago
Tracy McPherson · Top Commenter
Emotional abuse is real and damaging..this teacher needs help. How
humiliating to be sprayed with aerosol spray and health endangering..throwing
books, screaming? A parent would be reported to cps for these same
treatments..what makes a teacher above the law..THIS IS WRONG.
Reply · Like · Follow Post · 22 hours ago
Susan De Boer
For better or for worse, San Diego is my family's home. We have been through
a lot here when it comes to abusive and corruptive systems. This is the truth.
From the article:
“The district takes the issue of child abuse very seriously,” Zintz said.
“To some parents, if their kid gets screamed at by their teacher, they consider
that abuse,” district spokeswoman Linda Zintz said.
It is difficult at times to believe the statements that I would hear remembering
how they made no sense (yet, here they are in print )- how contradictory they
were, almost as if the individual speaking truly thought that the other person
listening didn't understand what they were saying. Or quite possibly felt that it
wouldn't matter what was said as long as you have the "school district," backing
you up. Or maybe, it might be a union that empowers on
e so.
According to the article, “School district officials said they do not track
complaints against teachers. They said the language of the law gives the
district latitude in responding.”.
Again, was this truly said? Did they freely admit that they do not keep track of
complaints in which they could be putting our children in harm's way? Besides
all of the times that we read about incidents happening at schools, and wonder
how could schools hire teachers that could be capable of harming children -
surely there are checks done? Whose interpretation of the "language of the
law," gave the district such “latitude in responding," regarding anything to do
with children's lives?
I don't remember the issue coming up for vote in giving the district any latitude
in responding, just as Rod Pacheo, as I believe he was stating and believe me,
many parents and young people have stated that the district doesn't have that
latitude. Even young people know abuse is abuse. When adults deny that, they
set the standard for young people that they are to be abused and that is okay.
But it is.
I do consider screaming at students by teachers as abusive, belittling,
cowardice, bullying, and intimidating. It can change the life of an individual into
possibly their last day.
I am presently working on an art installation, "Transcripts of Bullies," for
awareness and courage, so that no child/person/family feels isolated or " alone
jumping through hoops" anymore.
We are a community. Our children deserve better than the “Culture of Bullies,”
that our society has allowed. It’s time for transparency. It’s time for our children
not to fear. They have rights.
The School District is supposed to be there for our children, for the students,
to protect the students, not to be there for the district and to spend time and
money protecting the district. Sadly, this occurs at every level of education,
even through college.
From the district website regarding bullying : The last line includes everyone
but the word, "San Diego Unified School District."
(On the website, there should also be a student and parent's rights listed.)
“Anti-Bullying, Harassment, Intimidation.
Providing a safe learning environment is a critical element that all schools must
focus on if we are to achieve our goal of providing our children a quality
education. Bullying is a serious issue that every administrator in every school in
our country must handle. Research indicates that more than half of all school-
aged children nationwide will be involved in bullying this year as a victim or a
In our commitment to providing all students and staff with a safe learning
environment where everyone is treated with respect and no one is physically or
emotionally harmed, San Diego Unified will not tolerate any student or staff
member being bullied (including cyber‐bullying), harassed, or intimidated in any
form at school or school‐related events, (including off‐campus events, school‐
sponsored activities, school busses, any event related to school business), or
outside of school hours with the intention to be carried out during any of the
Such acts include those that are reasonably perceived as being motivated
either by an actual or perceived attribute that includes but is not limited to race,
religion, creed, color, marital status, parental status, veteran status, sex, sexual
orientation, gender expression or identity, ancestry, national origin, ethnic
group identification, age, mental or physical disability or any other
distinguishing characteristic.
The district further prohibits the inciting, aiding, coercing or directing of others
to commit acts of bullying or cyber-bullying, harassment or intimidation.
These problem cannot be solved unless schools, students, parents and the
community work together.”.
My name is Susan DeBoer. I truly hope it gets better. Hopefully, the San Diego
Unified School District along with our San Diego City and County Government
will grow quickly to become more transparent so that our whole community can
thrive better and we won't have to read such discouraging words from a school
district in an article again.
For any student reading this article, it would not be one of their finer moments
in their educational years to hear their district is not supporting students who
are being abused. It also is a form of bullying in itself, the response, as it lets
parents and students know that it doesn't matter what you do, you are wasting
your time.
I've had heart surgery and at least two mini-strokes, so I do apologize for any
errors in communication. San Diego School District, my daughter is still waiting
for her diploma and an apology.
Reply · Like · Follow Post · 23 hours ago
Ken Platt · Top Commenter · Works at Dept of The Navy
If there was really anything to this case then charges would have been filed
and the teacher would have been name by now. Especially since this has been
supposedly going on for 5 years.
Reply · Like · Follow Post · 23 hours ago
    Susan De Boer
    That would seem to make "logical sense," however, there truly is no logic in
dealing with representatives protective of "some" school districts. Parents and
families are led through and literally some told, "they have to jump through
hoops." That statement from a principal. You are literally worn down mentally
and physically. Trying to make sense is exhaustive! It is drug out so long and
the process is abusive in itself. It is mind games and sadly, there is abuse of
children and families and they are pushed to try and provoke so that a district
can use that against the student and or families.

    The school principal
    District administrators
    Child welfare services
    The police
    Depends on the severity

    As far as who should investigate? That is questionable also, unless there is
a watchdog system of the public (parents, etc.) ...See More
    Reply · 2 · Like · 22 hours ago
    Aaron Burgin · Subscribe · Top Commenter · Vista, California
    Not necessarily, Ken. One of the points of the article is that the
administrators haven't filed charges in cases of emotional abuse. So, no,
charges might not have been filed even if there was anything to the case.
    Reply · 2 · Like · 22 hours ago
    Susan Hopps
    Unfortunately, we know of stories dating back over 15 years of this same
teacher verbally, emotionally, and psychologically tormenting children. There
are kids who refuse to return to the school campus even though they have
younger siblings there becasue of their horrendous experience.
    Year after year, parents have been told that this is an "isolated" event, but it
is simply not so. Because, as the district admits, they do not keep records of
adult employee misconduct claims, they have no way of tracking it and
unscupulous adminsitrators cover it up. Parents and the kids reporting become
isolated and maligned, as we were.
    The BRAVE families that were wiling to relive their child's horrendous
experiences documented the past 5 years of abusive behaviors, The active
parents on the campus who took a stand to protect child safe
    ty were maligned by the Principal and also by other parents who refused to
believe that this could happen at "our" school. After 12 very involved years on
this campus, we took our son out because those in positions to stop the abuse
lacked the moral courage to do so and protect kids. We have continued to
speak out to try and help those unsuspecting kids and parents still at the
    The district response was a generic, "doesn't rise to the level of severity" but
it is NOT their authority to make such a judgement and do an "investigation." It
is actually illegal for SDUSD administrators or the school police to do so. Many
claims have been swept under the rug with regard to ALL types of abuse so
that the district could protect their employees and reduce lawsuits.
    Reply · 2 · Like · 21 hours ago
    Barbara Stevens · Top Commenter · San Diego, California
    Ken, you would probably be very surprised. The "Well-connected" parents
with children at this school probably already know to have their kids routed
around this teacher. Parents whose children end up there and hear about this
kind of stuff stomp into the principal's office and demand their child be
transferred. Were your parents the kind who said to you that if a teacher is
angry with you, then you must have done something to deserve it?
    Reply · 1 · Like · 4 hours ago
Judy Neufeld-Fernandez · University of Northern Colorado
To learn more about teacher bullying check out Alan McEvoy's research at: His paper,
Teacher Who Bully Students: Patterns and Policy Implications will flesh out the
typical response to this occurrence in school settings.
Reply · 2 · Like · Follow Post · Yesterday at 11:21am
    Nicole Pereira Fling · Nevada Union High School
    Front pg of the local section of the news paper. =)
    Reply · Like · Yesterday at 11:44am
Judy Neufeld-Fernandez · University of Northern Colorado
Full Disclosure: This article highlights our decision as parents to remove our
son from his beloved elementary school in an attempt to protect him from
further psychological harm from his teacher. I've been in education since 1988
and have taught in inner city situations, high SES districts and low. I've taught
juvenile offenders and homeless kids.

I understand FULLY the rigors of classroom teaching and still find this
teacher's methodology to fall under the legal definition of mental anguish.
Sadly, the teachers who personally confided in me of years of witnessing the
harm this teacher brings on children encouraged me to take a stand initially
and then threw me and my family under the bus when I did take a stand.

They changed their tune to protect their union colleague rather then stand up
for children's civil rights. ...See More
Reply · 1 · Like · Follow Post · Yesterday at 11:05am
    Barbara Stevens · Top Commenter · San Diego, California
    Thank you for standing up on this.
    Reply · Like · 4 hours ago
Susan Hopps
The law is the law and was written by legislators to protect children. In this
case, as with many others processed by SDUSD, the district "investigation"
didn't include talking to ANY of the child victims or parents who spoke on their
behalf. I doubt that the real police would consider that a true investigation,
which is why the law is written the way that it is. If others in SDUSD have had
their allegations determined and dismissed by an administrator and not by the
legal authority they should contact the San Diego City Attorney or send their
information to the UT Watchdog writer of this article, Aaron Burgin.
Reply · 3 · Like · Follow Post · Yesterday at 10:19am
Dana Kullmann · Top Commenter · Lassen Jr. College
In cases involving a child's accusation against a teacher any where in the
county it has always been your child is guilty until proven innocent at which time
it is deemed a mere misunderstanding.
Reply · 1 · Like · Follow Post · Yesterday at 9:44am
Roxana Garcia · San Diego City College
They are not only protecting their staff, but their Volunteers. I can personally
speak by experience. My son was kicked at CMS by a Volunteer and instead of
protecting my son, they protected the Volunteer and they thought they solved
the problem by sending the Volunteer to counseling and then was able to
return to the school to continue volunteering. Now I have to be supervised when
I request to have a teacher conference at that same school. Who is the victim
here , us or the Volunteer? Is it fair for other parents not to know what's really
going on in their children's school? You try to advocate for your children, but
when you request to meet with the appropriate personnel they dismiss you like
this isn't important. The hardest part is that these are the people I have to work
with. Well no, really the hardest part is in how this damaged my son emotionally
and no counseling was offered to him only the Volunteer. The school failed to
properly report the incident like many other incidents that are happening all
over the District.
Reply · 1 · Like · Follow Post · Yesterday at 9:02am
Edward Pollack · Top Commenter · Eastern Military Academy
What would really work to counteract administrators who are enabling student
abuse by teachers is to photograph the teacher, make picket signs with the
teachers picture and name on the signs and then picket the schools. It wouldn't
hurt to invite a TV station to do a report on the picket line.
Reply · 4 · Like · Follow Post · Yesterday at 7:42am
Susan Hopps
The point of the story is really about ALL allegations against children being
LEGALLY investigated as per the California Penal Code, by the PROPER
authorities, NOT the school district or school police (run by the school district),
which is focused on protecting its employees and not our children. The law is
very explicit in its definition about what is defined as abuse, whether emotional,
physical or sexual. The current practices by the SDUSD administration to
internally process allegations against children do not provide due process for
Reply · 6 · Like · Follow Post · Yesterday at 7:38am
    Roxana Garcia · San Diego City College
    Well eventhough they didn't write all the facts, it's just the beginning and
hopefully more parents will come forward with their personal experience.
    Reply · 2 · Like · Yesterday at 9:12am
    Aaron Burgin · Subscribe · Top Commenter · Vista, California
    Roxana, I just want you to know that I had your account included in my draft,
but we chose to focus on emotional abuse cases at this time. I am hopeful that
more voices will come forward.
    Reply · 2 · Like · Yesterday at 10:38am
    Barbara Stevens · Top Commenter · San Diego, California
    Susaa, would you suggest that parents call the police, then, instead of going
through the standard "through the school" routine?
    Reply · Like · 4 hours ago
View 1 more
Tony Garcia · Top Commenter
Time to send the kids to class with digital recorders to prove a violation, if there
is one to prove. Any kid can slyly hit record as another kid is belittled in front of
the class. I'm not a lawyer but I don't think threre would be illegal privacy issues
since a classroom is public and there is no expectation of privacy in public.
Reply · Like · Follow Post · Yesterday at 6:12am
    Alexander Clarke
    Not a bad idea but I think it would be better if there was an audio/video
recording in each class room that could not be controlled by the teacher. This
would protect students and teachers alike. It would end the "my kid wouldn't do
that" and document what went on in a classroom including teaching style etc.
    Reply · 6 · Like · Yesterday at 7:13am
    Tony Garcia · Top Commenter
    Great idea. Unfortunately school districts always complain about being
broke. I don't see class room video monitors coming anytime soon.
    Reply · Like · Yesterday at 7:47am
William Flowers · Top Commenter · Bristol Eastern High School
I agreeif its truly abuse should be addressed, however, todays decay of moral
structure and respect for authorities, take a deep look at the big picture and
see the other side, how kids lack of respect because of being spoiled by
liberiral parents, we need to quit trying to be friends with our kids and be
Reply · 7 · Like · Follow Post · Yesterday at 5:57am
    Pamela Jedinak Brock
    Reply · Like · Yesterday at 9:44am
    Douglas Andrew Hanlon · Top Commenter
    thank you teacher
    Reply · Like · Yesterday at 10:50am
    Barbara Stevens · Top Commenter · San Diego, California
    Hey, Bill, how about today's moral decay and the ability of adults to abuse
children with impunity? Maybe we need to quit enabling adults who prey on
those who are relatively powerless, here?
    Reply · 1 · Like · 4 hours ago
Brent Ramsey · Top Commenter
You may want to take a long look at Lewis Middle School in La Mesa. All I can
say, is dive deep, and you would be surprised. Just another example of how the
district turns it's eye the other direction. The stories are shocking, and I am not
referring to the teachers (they are excellent), now you figure it out what would
be left.
Reply · 2 · Like · Follow Post · Yesterday at 1:17am
    Debbie Griep Lunamand · San Diego, California
    Lewis Middle School is NOT in La Mesa, but Allied Gardens. Maybe you
should "dive deep" and figure out what school you are referring to BEFORE
you start rumor and allegations!
    Reply · 4 · Like · Yesterday at 8:13am
    Douglas Andrew Hanlon · Top Commenter
    wow you thought that was mean....
    Reply · Like · Yesterday at 10:51am
    Brent Ramsey · Top Commenter
    I stand corrected Debbie, it is located in Allied Gardens. Not starting rumors,
just facts are facts. Enough said. I am glad parents are fighting back. Emotional
abuse is just awful. I can site incidents, but I know better. I just wish a competent
school official would just do their job and protect students and staff.
    Reply · 1 · Like · 23 hours ago
    Ken Platt · Top Commenter · Works at Dept of The Navy
    My daughter went to Hardy, Lewis, and Patrick Henry (class of 2012) and
never had a problem with any teachers in the 12 years she was there.
    Just because a student doesn't like a teacher that doesn't mean they are
doing a bad job. In fact, I bet that the MAJORITY of the students think that the
MAJORITY of the teachers at all 3 schools did a good job.
    Reply · 2 · Like · 23 hours ago
    Brent Ramsey · Top Commenter
    Agree Ken. My point is the administration needs a look at. How
administrators keep their jobs is beyond me.
    Reply · Like · 23 hours ago
    Susan Hopps
    Yes. I have LOVED most of the teachers that my kids have had. Most have
been extraordinary in fact. Unfortunately, one abusive teacher can ruin a child's
self-esteem and damage them for life. One who abuses year after year
undetterred can hold unimaginable power over an entire school without parents
ever knowing, if their kid isn't in that class. Your children were lucky to avoid the
abusive teacher at Hardy.
    Reply · 2 · Like · 4 hours ago
    Susan Hopps
    Brent Ramsey The current Principal at Hardy has known of the abuse yet
maligned the parents who took a stand to protect kids. We never even named
the teacher but rather talked about the abusive behaviors occuring in her
classroom. Screaming at kids is the least of the offensives of humiliation and
belittling that occurred. The teacher was protected instead of the kids. One
parent advocate received a letter threatening to have her arrested which was
full of lies about what she said during a public meeting which was also
recorded. The Principal had obviously been coached by her superior in the
district because these letters are like form letters and are sent to silence
parents. SDUSD has a long history of intimidating parents who speak out about
child safety on campuses. Aaron Burgin did an article about these just over a
year ago...which you can find in the archives.
    Reply · 2 · Like · 4 hours ago
    Barbara Stevens · Top Commenter · San Diego, California
    Brent, how about you speak up and out. Call Aaron, present the information
you know, and get others to step up, and not support this code of protection. If
there is abuse going on, let the principal's phone ring off the hook night and
day about it.
    Reply · 2 · Like · 4 hours ago
    Phoumany Noonie Thibodeau
    Kids come first!!!!I am all about kids being safe, sharing and caring in class,
and helping them grow because I volunteer my time and money!!!! Also, I am
aware of the teacher at Hardy. More importantly, I don't have my kids in that
classroom. Kids don't have a choice with a teacher but in college, you get to
select your teacher.
    Reply · Like · 3 hours ago
    Judy Neufeld-Fernandez · University of Northern Colorado
    Ken Platt, I am sincerely glad for your daughter that she had a positive
educational experience at Hardy, Lewis and Patrick Henry. Wouldn't you wish
such an experience for ALL children? I was a very active PTA board member
and substitute teacher at Hardy. I loved being at the same school as my
children. I felt deeply blessed. I enjoyed a warm relationship with my students
and parents. However, one teacher, one experience changed all of that. I HAD
to take a stand when I learned from the principal and colleagues what really
goes on in "that" classroom. Ironically, the staff supported me as long as I
pulled my kid and quit my job QUIETLY. They were actually "proud" of me for
rescuing him from a dire situation which they'd witnessed many children before
him go through. The difference in our situation is I did not go QUIETLY. I tried to
stand for my neighbor's children and all kids at Hardy and what it got me was
responses like yours. I'm hoping that your response is because you don't know
the situation like I do. I certainly hope you don't promote the practices of this
particular teacher and the other instances of law breaking we are bringing to
    Reply · Like · 30 minutes ago