Complaints detail alleged harassment by LAUSD board President Vladovic
By Barbara Jones, Los Angeles Daily News | http://bit.ly/1ffN5Dm
Los Angeles Unified school board President Richard Vladovic denies accusations of sexual and verbal harassment by two former staffers. (File photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News)
Posted: 10/7/13, 8:24 PM PDT | Updated: 10/8 7AM :: Los Angeles Unified released two redacted complaints late Monday against school board President Richard Vladovic that triggered a three-month investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and intimidation against two of his former staff members.
One, a six-page complaint filed by a female staff member, details eight incidents in which she said Vladovic made sexually inappropriate remarks, told offensive jokes and made derogatory comments about a gay coworker. The alleged incidents occurred from July 2000 through January 2003, when Vladovic was a local superintendent in the South Bay.
The second complaint, filed by a male employee, said he had been “continually punished, harassed and retaliated against by board member Vladovic and his staff” from November 2012 to June 2013.
Vladovic did not return a call for comment. However, spokesman Mike Trujillo said the board president “categorically denies” each of the allegations,” adding that the investigation conducted by a law firm hired by the district found both of the complaints “unactionable.”
Because the report was prepared by the firm in anticipation of potential legal action, it is protected by attorney-client privilege and was not released as part of the records request, a district spokesman said. The final report could be released if the school board votes to waive that privilege.
In addition, Trujillo repeated earlier remarks made by Vladovic himself that the complaints were “politically motivated,” coming just days before he was elected on a split vote to be board president.
It is widely believed that the school board will discuss the Vladovic report today in a closed-door executive session. While there is no specific mention of the issue on the agenda, there is a discussion of two cases of “pending litigation.”
Board member Steve Zimmer, whom Vladovic chose as his vice president, said he could not confirm that the allegations against Vladovic would be part of today’s meeting, but he would like to tackle that issue at some point.
“It is my hope that the Board of Education will be able to discuss the situation with an eye toward what our expectations are toward all work environments,” Zimmer said. “The board has the responsibility to have the conversation.
“It’s also my hope that we’ll deal with the situation in a way that is respectful to all parties and will enable this board to move forward to address the most urgent needs of children and families who are relying on LAUSD.”
The Daily News filed the records request on Sept. 24, seeking the final report on the three-month investigation into allegations that Vladovic had bullied and harassed district employees.
A supplemental request filed Sept. 26 asked for any complaints or other documents relating to employee intimidation or sexual harassment allegations since Vladovic was hired by the district as a social studies teacher in 1969. Other media outlets subsequently requested the same information.
No other documents were released, and Trujillo described Vladovic’s file as “squeaky clean.”
But the complaint filed by the female staff member said Vladovic had a reputation for misconduct, and employees were afraid to report it for fear of retaliation.
For instance, she said he kept a binder with the image of an eye on the spine, filled with the names of employees Vladovic needed to keep an eye on.
“People that knew of the ‘eye’ book feared becoming a part of it,” the employee wrote.
“I have never worked in an atmosphere where one person manipulated so many situations for personal satisfaction and gratification,” she wrote. “Where office staff or school site staff was assigned, reassigned, demoted or promoted based on his needs or the needs of someone he knew, rather than for the good of the LAUSD students.”
According to the complaint filed by the female employee, she first voiced her concerns in May, while speaking to investigators looking into the handling of molestation allegations against Robert Pimentel, a teacher at a school in Wilmington.
Vladovic was cleared of any wrongdoing, although two high-ranking administrators were demoted and a principal left the district as a result of Pimentel investigation. Pimentel has since pleaded not guilty to charges of molesting nine girls in 2011-12 and a female relative from 2002-04. He remains jailed on $14 million bail.
The attorneys looking into the two complaints also met with several other employees, including Deputy Superintendent Jaime Aquino, who has said that Vladovic screamed at him about his job performance during two separate phone conversations.
Aquino said he wrote a memo to his bosses after the second incident, but that document was not released on Monday.