Sunday, April 28, 2013


By Barbara Jones, Staff Writer, LA Daily News |

<<David Kooper, principal at Gulf Elementary School in Wilmington, has been removed from his job.

Documents: ESC North Principals Letter | ESC North Staff Letter | Michael Romero Letter | Lawsuit filed against LAUSD by attorney Luis Carrillo | Attorney Luis Carrillo's Public Records Act request sent to LAUSD | LAUSD's denial of Carrillo's public-records request

4/25/2013 10:07:40 AM PDT/Updated:   04/25/2013 07:52:27 PM PDT  ::  Four senior Los Angeles Unified officials, including the San Fernando Valley's local superintendent, have been removed from their positions pending an internal investigation into "a confidential personnel matter," a district spokesman said Thursday.

Linda Del Cueto, the instructional leader for the North Educational Service Center, and Michael Romero, who oversees LAUSD's Adult Education Division, were removed from their posts last Friday, according to district spokesman Tom Waldman. They have been assigned to remain at home and continue to receive their $171,200-a-year salaries.

Principals David Kooper and Valerie Moses also were removed from their jobs at Gulf Avenue and Los Angeles Elementary schools, respectively.

Superintendent John Deasy said all four reassignments were related to the same investigation, but he declined to elaborate.

<<Linda Del Cueto, the instructional leader for the North Educational Service Center, was removed from her position Friday, April 19, 2013

However, Del Cueto's name has emerged in a case involving Robert Pimentel, a teacher charged with molestation and Irene Hinojosa, a veteran principal who retired after being accused of not reporting the suspected abuse.

According to a lawsuit filed against LAUSD, Hinojosa and Del Cueto were among several administrators who attended an October 2009 meeting at which parents said Pimentel, a fourth-grader teacher at George De La Torre Elementary School in Wilmington, had molested their daughters. The suit, which was filed on behalf of three alleged victims of Pimentel, said the administrators failed to report the alleged abuse to authorities as required by law.

The suit, filed by attorney Luis Carrillo, claims that district officials "buried" reports related to the 2009 meeting. He has filed a California Public Records Act request for the documents, which the district has denied.

In 2009, Del Cueto was the superintendent for the local district that included Wilmington, while Romero and Moses oversaw clusters of elementary schools in the region. Those schools are in the district of South Bay school board member Richard Vladovic. At the time, Kooper was Vladovic's chief of staff. (Also, before he joined the school board, Vladovic had served as local superintendent for that district from 2000 to 2003.)

The district received complaints in February 2012 that Pimentel had molested students beginning in 2008. LAUSD officials notified authorities who opened an investigation.

Michael Romero, who oversees LAUSD's Adult Education Division, was removed from his position Friday, April 19, 2013. >>

Pimentel, 57, was arrested in January 2013 on charges of molesting a dozen students. He has pleaded not guilty, and remains jailed on $12 million bail.

Deasy has said that when the allegations surfaced last year, he reviewed files and learned that Pimentel had been accused in 2002 of molesting students at Dominguez Elementary in Carson. Pimentel was transferred to De La Torre in 2007, and Deasy said parents there complained the following year that he was inappropriately touching students.

Hinojosa had been Pimentel's principal at both Dominguez and De La Torre.

Deasy suspended her in March 2012 - about the same time Pimentel was pulled from the classroom - after a review of personnel files shows Hinojosa had failed to act on the 2002 allegations. Pimentel and Hinojosa both retired on the same day last April, as Deasy was moving to fire them.

On Friday, Deasy sent a letter to principals in ESC North, saying that Del Cueto had been "temporarily reassigned pending the conclusion of an internal investigation into a confidential personnel matter." In the interim, her position has been filled by Bryan Maltez.

A similar letter was sent to Adult School personnel about Romero, who has been temporarily replaced by Alma Pena Sanchez.

School board member Tamar Galatzan, who represents the San Fernando Valley, had no comment on Del Cueto.

A spokeswoman for Vladovic referred requests for comment about Kooper to the school district's attorneys.

District general counsel David Holmquist did not return phone calls seeking comment.

2cents smf: It should be noted that Dr. Deasy has not recommended continuing David Holmquist’s contract as General Counsel. Board Secretary Jefferson Crain’s contract as well as those of DelCueto and Romero were also removed from consideration at the last Board of Ed  meeting.

However, in a June 2011 letter, Vladovic lauded Kooper for his work on behalf of Local District 7.

"The end of my 4th year on the Board is also met with sadness, as my Chief of Staff David Kooper leaves my office to take over as Principal at Gulf Avenue Elementary School in Wilmington," Vladovic wrote. "He has helped the Board of Education develop innovative District policies and procedures as well as been a great friend to the schools and communities of Board District 7. Although I am excited for David, I am sad to see him go as he was truly a wonderful asset for my Board District."

In published reports in 2010, when Del Cueto was reassigned to the Valley, Vladovic also praised her work and that of Romero, who succeeded her as local superintendent.

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