The L.A. public school system continues to appear dysfunctional after years and years of so-called reform, a board takeover by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and his allies, and superintendent after superintendent.
The latest scandal involves the last superintendent, Ramon Cortines, who the L.A. Unified School District today said had engaged in "consensual adult behavior" with a male underling, Scot Graham, a senior facilities manager.
The district made the revelation today in response to a
lawsuit claim by Graham, who alleged sexual harassment on the job, ostensibly at the hands of Cortines.
The LAUSD today said it has settled the
lawsuit claim, stating:
Mr. Cortines denies any and all allegations of sexual harassment against Mr. Graham, but admits to engaging in consensual adult behavior with him. Mr. Graham and Mr. Cortines were friends before and after Cortines' work with LAUSD.
latest superintendent, John Deasy, board says:
Ensuring a health and safe school and work environment is necessary to conduct the work of teaching and learning. We take all sexual harassment allegations seriously. In all cases, the Board gives maximum consideration to the best use of public funds and the District must ensure that it uses its precious resources wisely. After extensive discussion and deliberation, the Board entered into a settlement agreement in order to resolve the claim.
Can you say little house of horrors? (Or maybe big house of horrors, since this is the largest district in the land.)
[Added at 2:51 p.m.]: Cortines issued this statement:
I first met Mr. Graham prior to his tenure at the Los Angeles Unified School District. I respected his work and had considered him a colleague and a friend for many years. In 2000, when Mr. Graham expressed interest in potentially working for LAUSD, I indicated to him that the Facilities Division may have openings. Subsequent to Mr. Graham's hiring and after I returned to the District in 2008, there were Facilities-related projects that required us to work together. I deny any and all allegations that I sexually harassed Mr. Graham. In 2010, during a weekend trip, we did engage in consensual spontaneous adult behavior on one occasion. This brief private encounter occurred during a non-District related trip, outside of Los Angeles County and at my private residence.
As the District's former top staff member, I regret allowing myself to engage in such spontaneous, consensual behavior. However, Mr. Graham had never indicated to me that our interaction was unwelcome. Even after I retired from the District in April 2011, Mr. Graham continued to seek me out to interact with him socially. This included going out to brunch and being invited to have dinner at his home along with his partner as recent as early 2012.
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A representative for outside counsel retained by the district confirmed to the Weekly that the settlement was for $200,000 plus lifetime health benefits.
Current superintendent John Deasy said, in part:
I consider all allegations of sexual harassment to be serious. However, the conduct alleged against my predecessor in this matter occurred prior to my becoming superintendent.