from Eastern Group Publications News Service
It would be “inappropriate” for school district officials to brief members of the City Council on the case of an assistant principal charged with molesting students, the school board president said in a letter responding to the panel’s request, which was officially made yesterday.
The letter from Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education President Monica Garcia was in response to a council motion — introduced last week and unanimously approved Wednesday — asking district officials to brief council members on the case of assistant principal Steve Thomas Rooney.
In her letter to Councilwoman Janice Hahn, who introduced the motion, Garcia said district officials will not brief the council at this time.
“Mr. Rooney’s conduct was reprehensible and intolerable. The safety, health and welfare of our students is at the core of educating them, and I assure you that the Board of Education and our superintendent are taking the necessary steps to hold accountable those employees still with the district whose conduct permitted this to happen,’’ Garcia wrote.
“However, those decisions will be made within the context of the law, and it would be inappropriate for the district to address them before the city council.”
The 39-year-old educator is charged with 13 felony sex-related counts involving three teenage girls — three counts of forcible lewd acts upon a child, six counts of lewd acts upon a child and four counts of unlawful sexual intercourse. He remains jailed in lieu of $1 million bail pending his next court date on May 30.
“We all represent the same parents, we represent the same children. I know my office was flooded with calls, with concerns about how this could have happened,” Hahn said.
The councilwoman represents the area around Markham Middle School, where Rooney was sent after he was investigated for allegedly having sex with an underage student at another LAUSD campus. Two of the alleged victims attended Markham, and the other was a student at Foshay Learning Center.
The case raised the ire of Markham parents, who criticized the LAUSD after learning that Rooney had previously been investigated for allegedly having sex with an underage student while he worked at Fremont High School and pulling a gun on her stepfather. No charges were filed in that case.
Rooney was first arrested in connection with a 13-year-old girl who claims he had sex with her March 1. Charges were subsequently added in connection with the two others, one of whom testified at a May 1 hearing that she met Rooney around 2005, while she was a 15-year-old student at Foshay, and had a sexual relationship with him that lasted about 1 1/2 years and resulted in a pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage.