Wednesday, September 25, 2013


By Barbara Jones, Los Angeles Daily News |

(File photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News)

9/24/13, 3:45 PM PDT   ::  Los Angeles Unified has completed a three-month investigation into allegations that school board President Richard Vladovic bullied and harassed district employees, but the results of the inquiry will not be released, the Daily News has learned.

Board members were being briefed Tuesday on the results of the investigation, which was launched in June after two district employees — a man and a woman — filed formal harassment complaints against Vladovic. Investigators also looked into allegations of harassment made by several other employees. The inquiry covered the time that Vladovic served as a local area superintendent as well as his tenure on the school board.

“We have concluded the investigation, which was conducted by an outside firm,” General Counsel David Holmquist said in a statement. “We are in the process of providing individual board members with the findings of that investigation.”

Vladovic, 68, of San Pedro, did not return a request for comment. He is scheduled to be briefed on the inquiry on Wednesday.

“He’s waiting for tomorrow to hear what the results are so he can bring this matter to a conclusion,” said his attorney, Howard Friedman. “He wants to get this over with and get back to the business of the district.”

Citing the potential for litigation, district spokesman Sean Rossall said the results of the investigation would remain confidential.

At the time the investigation was opened, Vladovic said he would cooperate and expected to be quickly exonerated. He also denied any misconduct involving employees, including one staffer he said had filed a complaint about an incident that occurred 12 years earlier.

The identities of the initial complainants have never been revealed.

Outgoing Deputy Superintendent Jaime Aquino said he himself did not file a formal complaint against Vladovic but was questioned by investigators who’d heard about run-ins he’d had with Vladovic. Aquino, the district’s instructional leader, said he described two separate telephone conversations in which the board member had screamed at him about his job performance.

“He was belligerent, intimidating and threatening,” Aquino said. “The first time that it happened, I think I’d been in the job only four or five weeks — that’s how I was welcomed to the district. When it happened again, I put it in writing to (Superintendent) John Deasy and (Chief Deputy Superintendent) Michelle King.

“After I put it in writing, I have to acknowledge, his tone changed and he became respectful. But it took my having to put it in writing.”

Aquino said that after the second incident with Vladovic, he sought reassurance from Los Angeles Unified attorneys on whether Vladovic was bound by the district’s Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct and was told that the guidelines for the treatment of employees also applies to elected officials.

Under questioning, Aquino said, he also told investigators he’d seen Vladovic threatening to fire an employee.

Vladovic has previously admitted that he yelled at Aquino during an argument about district operations but said the two had resolved their differences. Aquino recently resigned his position, effective Dec. 31, saying the board was interfering in the school administration’s work.

Vladovic was the subject of an separate investigation into the handling of molestation complaints made against former teacher Robert Pimentel at De La Torre Elementary in Wilmington. He was cleared of wrongdoing, while two former high-ranking administrators were demoted and a principal left the district.

Pimentel has pleaded not guilty to charges of molesting nine girls in 2011-12 and a female relative in 2002-04. He remains jailed on $14 million bail.

Vladovic was chosen to be school board president in July by a 5-2 vote of his colleagues. As president, he has no more authority than any other board member, but he runs the meetings and is generally considered to be a spokesman for the board.

Vladovic is a native of San Pedro who graduated from Cal State Long Beach and later earned a master’s degree from Pepperdine University and a doctorate in education from USC.

He started his teaching career as a social studies teacher at White Middle School in Carson, before beginning a decades-long career as an administrator in the South Bay. He retired in 2005 after a two-year stint as chief of neighboring West Covina Unified, then won his school board seat in 2007.

Vladovic generally comes across as a genial curmudgeon and is known to coworkers and supporters as “Dr. V.” However, a source has said that Vladovic is privately known to detractors as “Dr. Death” because of his angry outbursts.

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