CHS teacher arrested, charged with making threats, stalking

A Claremont High School teacher has been arrested and charged with issuing criminal threats, stalking and making annoying phone calls to employees of the Claremont Unified School District, including administrators, teachers and board members.

Claremont police arrested Dave Lukkarila, a CHS social studies teacher, at his home on Thursday, April 16. According to Claremont Lieutenant Mike Ciszek, the Rancho Cucamonga resident was cooperative upon arrest and booked at Claremont jail where he was held on $1 million bail.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney charged Mr. Lukkarila with 13 counts on Monday, including two counts of felony criminal threats, two counts of felony stalking and nine counts of making annoying telephone calls, all of which are misdemeanors.

The complaint lists a series of dates for crimes allegedly committed by the 47-year-old, including a felony criminal threat and annoying telephone call against a CUSD administrator occurring on April 15, 2015 as the most recent.

Charges include a felony criminal threat on or about May 26, 2014 against a CUSD board member and two separate felony stalking charges against a CUSD board member and a teacher that occurred between May 15 and May 26, 2014.

Mr. Lukkarila is also charged with making numerous annoying telephone calls to two separate teachers, two CUSD administrators and a Claremont faculty union representative, all misdemeanors, on May 15, May 22, May 23 and May 26, 2014. Several of those telephone calls cite the use of obscene language by Mr. Lukkarila.

On Monday, April 20, the teacher—who is currently on unpaid suspended status with CUSD—was transported from the Claremont Police Department to the Los Angeles Superior Court in Pomona for his arraignment, where he entered a plea of not guilty to all charges.

Mr. Lukkarila has yet to post his $1 million bond and has been reassigned to the North County Correctional Facility in Castaic.

When contacted by the COURIER, a representative from the CUSD declined to comment on the matter.

Mr. Lukkarila was put on paid leave March 28, 2013 pending the results of an investigation stemming from complaints by CHS staffers and others that the high school instructor’s behavior made them feel unsafe, CUSD Superintendent Jim Elsasser explained in a previous interview.

Over the next year or so, Mr. Lukkarila made repeated attempts to contact various CUSD staff and representatives via email, telephone and in person. On March 21, 2014, the district held a Skelly hearing titled “Notice of Intent to Dismiss and Immediately Suspend Without Pay with Statement of Charges,” at which point CUSD moved to suspend Mr. Lukkarila without pay.

Although technically still an employee of CUSD, a three-year restraining order against Mr. Lukkarila was obtained by the district. The terms mandate that he stay at least 200 feet from any district-owned school or building, in addition to other stay-away rules relating to making contact with specific CUSD representatives. Should Mr. Lukkarila post his $1 million bail, the terms of that order will remain in effect.

Mr. Lukkarila is scheduled to appear in the Pomona courts on Tuesday, April 28 for a preliminary hearing.

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