A teacher at a Canoga Park junior high school was under investigation Thursday for allegedly fondling female students, while the school district announced a policy mandating that parents be notified within 72 hours when a teacher is removed from the classroom.
The John Sutter Middle School teacher, whose name was not released, has been removed from the classroom, according to the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Attorney Brian Claypool, who is representing several families in litigation involving a former teacher at over alleged abuse, said a colleague of the teacher at Sutter sent a letter to school administrators raising concerns about possible inappropriate behavior.
In the letter, the educator claimed that several female students complained to him about the actions of the teacher now under investigation -- including touching and flirting.
"He overheard these kids talking in his classroom about this other teacher, so he intervened and said, 'Hey, what are you all talking about?"' Claypool said. "And then these kids opened up to him and said, 'Hey we feel very uncomfortable around this teacher. We're afraid, we don't feel comfortable."'
Claypool told reporters that school and district administrators failed to act on the allegations in the letter for a week.
"We've learned from Miramonte that 20 years ago nothing was done to take those complaints serious," Claypool said. "And had they been taken serious, we could have avoided the entire Miramonte tragedy. What we want to accomplish today on behalf of these teachers, speaking out for these teachers, is that we want to avoid a repeat of Miramonte."
The district Thursday announced a policy mandating that parents and guardians be notified within 72 hours when a teacher at their child's school has been removed from the classroom for allegations of sexual misconduct.
The only exception would occur if the district was specifically advised by law enforcement not to release the information within that time frame, LAUSD said.
"The in recent months has prompted a re-evaluation of our reporting procedures," Superintendent John Deasy said. "Working closely with local law enforcement, we believe we have come up with a plan that best serves the needs of parents and teachers while not hindering possible criminal investigations."
Deasy added, "The intent with our policy has always been to enable law enforcement to conduct investigations in an environment free from bias, and to let parents and guardians know within a reasonable amount of time if a teacher has been accused of a serious offense," Deasy said. "We believe that the new rule strikes the proper balance between the two."
A comprehensive policy will be completed by the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, Deasy said.
-- City News Service