The Los Angeles Board of Education voted this week to fire nationally recognized teacher Rafe Esquith following a misconduct investigation.
The longtime educator at Hobart Avenue Elementary School, who has received national acclaim for his teaching and his bestselling books, has denied wrongdoing, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.
Acting on the recommendation of senior administrators, the school board voted unanimously behind closed doors Tuesday to begin termination proceedings against Esquith, sources who requested anonymity told The Times.
Esquith, 61, was removed from the classroom in April after another educator complained about a joke he made to students relating to nudity. The complaint prompted an investigation, which quickly grew to include other allegations of misconduct, The Times reported.
In a letter to Esquith’s attorneys in August, district officials said they were investigating claims that he inappropriately touched minors before and during his more than 30-year teaching career, according to the newspaper. The district also said the inquiry “revealed multiple inappropriate photographs and videos of a sexual nature,” The Times reported.
Other allegations involved his handling of a nonprofit, according to the newspaper.
Esquith’s attorney, Mark Geragos, said in an email to The Times that he believes any action against his client was a preemptive move to a class-action lawsuit he intends to file this week “on behalf of thousands of teachers who all attest to the pattern and practice of the District to gin up false complaints to divest teachers of their benefits as they near retirement age.”
Geragos, however, did not address questions about the board’s action against Esquith, The Times reported.
An L.A. Unified spokeswoman told The Times Wednesday that Esquith was no longer being paid by the district.
—City News Service
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: