Fall out from the student sexual molestation case against Steven Rooney continues to reverberate through the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), with the arrest of one administrator, the exoneration of two others by an internal investigation, and the creation of sweeping new policies that put children’s safety first and which are to prevent people from being returned to school sites without the appropriate clearance.
Alan Hubbard, Dean of Students at Foshay Learning Center was recently arrested and charged with accessory after the fact. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office filed the case after an investigation concluded that Hubbard withheld information and attempted to “dissuade a witness” in the Rooney case.
Hubbard, who was released on bail and is scheduled to appear in court July 2, has also been removed from the school.
Two other administrators, who were removed from their posts in the wake of the Rooney arrest, were returned to their jobs after being cleared by an internal investigation of their roles into the failure of the school district to permanently remove Rooney.
Rooney was a Markham Middle School administrator when he was arrested, after allegations surfaced of sexual involvement with a student.
District Seven Superintendent Carol Truscott and Scott Braxton, one of her high-ranking administrators, were returned to their duties after the investigation cleared them.
At the same time, Rooney is expected to return to court July 9. He is currently in custody on $1 million bail awaiting trial. He was arrested earlier this year on charges of sexual involvement with a Markham student, following charges last year that he had an affair with a Foshay High School youngster.
Formal charges in the Foshay case were never filed, because the pupil refused to testify. Rooney was initially pulled from the school, when the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) brought their investigation to the school district’s attention. But because of actions by LAUSD administrators which downplayed the seriousness of the charges, the teacher was returned to another school (Fremont) and then eventually moved to Markham.
Truscott and Braxton were removed from their posts in the wake of the discovery that Rooney had been allowed to return to a school.
To insure that such an action does not occur again, Superintendent David L. Brewer said in a statement released recently, that the district has implemented a number of changes designed to prevent such an occurrence from happening again. They include:
* Instituting a comprehensive district-wide educational campaign to raise awareness including parents and students. The education of employees will begin July 1 and include web-based training, followed with live instruction on the proper way to report child abuse. The training will also emphasize understanding district policies and procedures.
Those employees not on track in July, will receive the training in the fall. According to David Holmquist, chief operations officer, the district plans to hold employees accountable for reporting such cases, and he stressed that fear of retaliation is not something district employees have to worry about because the reports are confidential.
The information will also go out to parents and students as part of awareness training during the fall.
* Strategic alignment of key divisions that respond to reports of abuse as well as creation of a Safety Task Force. This task force which consists of representatives from the school police, the district legal staff as well as other high level offices, has a daily phone conference to discuss all such cases, according to Holmquist.
Additionally, the COO said, this committee will carefully evaluate all information provided before making a recommendation about returning an individual to a school site. Then this information will be passed on to the Superintendent, who will have the final authority to permit an individual’s return.
Other changes according to Holmquist included modifying the initial reporting policy and practice so that instead of getting a verbal report of alleged cases from law enforcement, the school district gets a written report. In the Rooney case, according to a district memo, the allegations of the sexual relationship were initially given verbally by the LAPD. But this information was passed on to the appropriate district offices.
Another critical change will be to effectively use technology to track employees suspected of child abuse and other forms of misconduct. This means putting together a central database that contains current and accurate information.
This will allow everyone to see the same information, added Holmquist, stressing however that employees are innocent until proven guilty, and consequently there will be limited access to this database.