State auditor takes a closer look at LAUSD misconduct cases, practices

State auditors are expected to finish in the coming weeks a formal review of how Los Angeles Unified handled claims of misconduct lodged against teachers and other employees, including whether district officials followed all applicable laws.

The audit was launched in March in the wake of the sex-abuse scandal at the Miramonte Elementary School where two former teachers have been accused of child molestation.

The audit follows an ongoing analysis of hundreds of misconduct cases from LAUSD referred to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, which is mandated to oversee investigation of all allegations of misconduct against credential applicants and holders.

Earlier this spring, the district sent more than 500 cases of potential violations to the CTC for further review.

LAUSD is also separately conducting its own internal analysis of more than 8,000 employee files looking for misconduct that may have gone unreported over the past 40 years.

State Auditor Elaine Howle and her staff are conducting a fairly broad review of disciplinary practices at LAUSD, according to a scope of work posted on the agency's website.

In addition to looking at how the district communicates the legal requirements surrounding proper conduct and training, the audit team has also taken a deeper look at the district and six sample school sites.

Among the points of focus, the team is looking specifically at how and when the district notified parents, law enforcement officials, employee unions and the CTC when an allegation of misconduct had been made.

The district drew significant criticism for not telling parents from the Miramonte school about the allegations surrounding one of its teachers for more than a year after his arrest.

The district has said that they chose not to disclose the issue because they did not want to disrupt the police investigation - but they have since adopted a policy that requires parent notice within 72 hours if a teacher is removed from the classroom for suspected misconduct.

The auditor is also looking at how the district conducts its investigations into misconduct claims; how it monitors employees who have been found to have violated policies and ensure that the district has a proper whistle-blower program.

The state auditor has said the report will be released sometime in November.

Both of the former teachers from Miramonte accused of molestation are facing trial; a third teacher from a different LAUSD elementary school pleaded guilty in August to sexual abuse.

The district is facing at least one civil lawsuit over the cases. The families of 14 students from Miramonte filed suit in July claiming that LAUSD did not protect their children from a teacher accused of lewd acts involving children.