A fifth-grade teacher well known for introducing his Hobart Boulevard Elementary students to Shakespeare is suing the Los Angeles Unified School District, which has released new allegations against him.
The attorney for Rafe Esquith, who was removed from his classroom in April, termed the district’s allegations “outrageous,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
The probe that produced his removal began when a colleague expressed concern about a joke Esquith made to his students.
Since then, the investigation has expanded to include a review of Esquith’s theatrical nonprofit and allegations that he abused a boy more than 40 years ago, The Times reported. Esquith, 61, has denied wrongdoing.
L.A. Unified disclosed Thursday that its inquiry now involves the inappropriate touching of minors both before and during Esquith’s teaching career and that multiple photos of a sexual nature were found on his school computer, according to The Times.
The newspaper quoted the district as telling Esquith’s attorneys that the investigation “has revealed serious allegations of highly inappropriate conduct involving touching of minors before and during Mr. Esquith’s time at the School District.”
The district’s letter to the attorneys says the probe “revealed multiple inappropriate photographs and emails of a sexual nature” on his school computer as well as email correspondence with students that was “inconsistent” with the district’s code of conduct. The letter also referred to allegations of “threats to a parent and two students,” The Times reported.
One of Esquith’s attorney’s, Mark Geragos, called the allegations outrageous, according to The Times.
Esquith’s suit seeks his return to school as well as damages for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, retaliation and age discrimination, The Times reported. According to the litigation, stress from the investigation led to Esquith’s recent hospitalization for thrombosis.
The suit says the district investigated Esquith to retaliate because he has objected to the LAUSD’s “wasteful policies and practices.”
—City News Service