Superintendent addresses recent staff misconduct
by Jim Elsasser, EdD, CUSD Superintendent of Schools
Keeping children safe at school is of the utmost importance for the Claremont Unified School District. We work diligently to maintain safe schools by having policies, procedures, and practices in place to hire and annually train and supervise our staff on appropriate behaviors and interactions with students.
Our standards and expectations for personal and professional conduct are clear and unambiguous. There are over 800 dedicated teachers, support staff and administrators in CUSD. Each day, they comply with those policies and perform their jobs with true professionalism while being held to the highest ethical standards.
That is why we are deeply saddened and very disappointed that in recent months, two individuals at Claremont High School and one individual at San Antonio High School have allegedly engaged in isolated, inappropriate sexual relationships with students in violation of the law and our district policies. We take these allegations of misconduct very seriously. In each instance, once we became aware of the allegations, we took decisive and immediate action to place the employees on administrative leave and remove them from their school sites.
District and school site administrators cooperated very closely with the Claremont Police Department throughout the investigations. As far as we know, the alleged incidents all occurred off campus outside of the regular school day.
During the police investigations and ongoing legal proceedings of these cases, the district is required to comply with state due process and privacy laws for everyone involved. As a result, we cannot publically discuss the details of employee or student records, disciplinary actions or other confidential personnel information.
The district’s extensive hiring practices include the required Department of Justice and FBI fingerprinting and district background and reference check protocols. Anyone failing district background and reference checks, and/or with a criminal history related to child abuse, is denied employment.
Additionally, every CUSD employee must participate in annual training on child abuse and sexual harassment. In these annual trainings, employees are informed of their responsibility as mandated reporters to report suspected misconduct or abuse and are apprised of the consequences of misconduct involving children. Employee attendance at these trainings is tracked, and anyone failing to comply is placed on leave until they complete the preventative training.
Principals and other school leaders follow practices that encourage people to come forward in confidence if they have suspicions about possible inappropriate conduct. Our site and district leaders investigate each allegation to determine if there is evidence of unlawful misconduct or a violation of board policies. Staff is required to immediately report the allegation and/or violation to law enforcement or Child Protective Services.
The professional misconduct and actions of a few individuals should not detract from Claremont Unified School District’s well-deserved reputation as a safe, caring and highly successful district. The Claremont community can take pride in its many successes. In CUSD, we will continue to make student safety our highest priority, and ensure that the student experience in our schools is positive and productive.
On behalf of the board of education, I want to thank the entire Claremont community for its continual support of our district’s students and schools.