Attorneys for a nationally recognized teacher who was removed from his classroom after allegations of misconduct are reported Thursday to have issued an ultimatum to the administrators of the Los Angeles Unified School District: publicly apologize and let him return to work, or get sued.
Rafe Esquith, a longtime educator at Hobart Boulevard Elementary School in Koreatown who has written several books on teaching and received multiple awards for his work, has not been allowed to return to school since district officials launched an investigation in March, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Three months later, L.A. Unified officials have not clearly outlined the allegations against the popular teacher, his attorney, Mark Geragos, told The Times. But Geragos said he learned that the investigation stemmed from a complaint by another teacher after Esquith read to a class a passage from “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain.
The passage, according to The Times, includes this section: “The duke and the king worked hard all day, setting up a stage and curtain and row of candles for footlights. … At last, when he’d built up everyone’s expectations high enough, he rolled up the curtain. The next minute the king came prancing out on all fours, naked. He was painted in rings and stripes all over in all sorts of colors and looked as splendid as a rainbow.”
Esquith was initially sent to a district administrative office, where instructors report to after they’ve been removed from their classrooms over allegations of wrongdoing. He is now home waiting for the results of the district’s investigation.
“When you quote Mark Twain you go to teacher jail, your reputation is trampled on and ignorant bureaucrats assume the role of judge and jury in the face of a baseless allegation which has already been found meritless by the California Teacher Credentialing Committee,” Geragos said. “Sadly, it is the students, their families and the community that suffers.”
Geragos gave L.A. Unified 10 days to respond to his ultimatum, The Times reported.
—Staff and wire reports
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