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Timeline: BUSD Teacher Abuse Incident

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It’s been over two weeks since news broke of the nearly $1 million lawsuit settlement after a teacher abused a special needs child. Over this time, a lot information as been released and it’s been somewhat of an information overload.

I’ve been working with the nice folks at the “BUSD Concerned Parents and Teachers” Facebook Group in Brentwood to put out information in a way that highlights the timeline of events.

It is our hope that this post can be used as a guide for information, rumor killers, and used to create conversations that the school board refuses to have. With so much information flying around, its easy to lose track of what has actually occurred in the heat of the moment.

The Trio involved:

  • Superintendent Merrill Grant
  • Loma Vista Elementary principal Lauri James
  • Teacher Dina Holder

May 25, 2010
Loma Vista Elementary, Special Education Classroom. Teacher Holder removed child from seat by arm, kicked him twice on floor, in front of two adult aids. Aids removed her from classroom. Source: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2013/01/family-to-receive-950000-in-teacher-abuse-settlement-.html

May 26, 2010
James was notified of incident. Holder was placed on paid administrative leave for four days
Source: http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_22389672/brentwood-superintendent-says-legal-limitations-kept-abusive-teacher

May 27, 2012
James has staff launch investigation, she was off school grounds.
Source: http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_22411954/daniel-borenstein-brentwood-abuse-case-reveals-complete-failure

May 28, 2010
James notifies CPS verbally two days after being notified by aids about incident, never submits written report, did not call Brentwood PD or parents. Discrepancy over what the reporting agency told her.

See articles
http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_22389672/brentwood-superintendent-says-legal-limitations-kept-abusive-teacher

http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_22411954/daniel-borenstein-brentwood-abuse-case-reveals-complete-failure

June 1, 2010
James called parents of victim and notified them an incident occurred. Parents notify Brentwood PD, when it should have been the School District.
Source: http://www.mercurynews.com/crime-courts/ci_22381430/brentwood-teachers-abuse-leads-950-000-settlement-attorneys

July 2010
Holder starts working at Krey Elementary.

October 6, 2011
Holder pleads “no contest” to misdemeanor child abuse charges. Remains in classroom at Krey.
Source: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2013/01/family-to-receive-950000-in-teacher-abuse-settlement-.html

January 9, 2013,
The BUSD Board voted in closed session Jan. 9 to make the settlement agreement.

January 15, 2013
Settlement of $950k announced in Contra Costa Times

Source: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2013/01/family-to-receive-950000-in-teacher-abuse-settlement-.html

Source: http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_22389672/brentwood-superintendent-says-legal-limitations-kept-abusive-teacher

January 16, 2013
Grant acknowledges that the principal did not notify police after being notified by aids of the incident.  Grant states: “Teacher dismissals are very complex, very cumbersome and it takes a lot of time,”

Source: http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_22389672/brentwood-superintendent-says-legal-limitations-kept-abusive-teacher

According to the ABCNews Bakersfield,  additional problems were uncovered during the legal case against Holder. They included:

  • Aides testified that Holder used profanity in the classroom and spent most of the time in class playing solitaire.
  • Previously, a parent told the principal that she saw Holder shaking a three-year-old child so violently that his head was shaking.
  • A special needs child claimed to have been slapped by an adult at the school. The adult was later identified as Holder.
  • An aide observed Holder restraining a child by taping his legs to a chair with masking tape.
  • A child with down syndrome who was supposed to be in Holder’s classroom was found wandering around campus.
  • It was later discovered that, according to the State of California, Holder did not have the proper credentialing to teach children with autism, of whom there were many in her class.

January 24, 2013
School Board spoke through their lawyer stating how the course of action was justified by moving her to another school while changing her grade level. It should be noted, the School Board didn’t plan for a large audience and held their meeting in too small of a room.

January 29, 2013
School district apologizes for handling of this case. Acknowledges: there was a “huge gap” in the district’s mandated reporting.
Source: http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_22477400/school-district-officials-apologize-handling-teacher-abuse-case

January 30, 2013
Superintendent Merrill Grant issues a formal “open letter” to Brentwood parents.
Source: https://www.brentwood.k12.ca.us/downloadabledocs/Public_Statement-Merrill_Grant.pdf

As we go forward, I encourage folks to stick to the facts and keep their eye on the end game which is ensuring this never happens again. Hold conversations, submit suggestions to the district, request explanations instead putting up with lip service.  If responses from Superintendent Grant and the Board do not pass the “smell test”, continue to seek answers.

Keep up the pressure until real action occurs and the Board finally does take the appropriate action Brentwood parents are seeking.

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7 Responses »

  1. Thank you for helping develop the timeline of events, we have had a lot of request from parents who were asking the “when, where and how” questions.

    Moving forward our main goal in starting the BUSD Concerned Parents and Teachers FB page was to begin to advocate for positive change at our School Level and at the District Level. We want to keep the momentum going, we want real, meaningful change so that we never have this type of failure again. If any of you are interested in supporting one or all of our goals, here they are listed below:

    1. Re-evaluate the charter of the Board and Office of the Superintendent. In our opinion, the path forward to positive change would be the removal of Merrill Grant as Superintendent of the BUSD. We would also like to see an independent investigation by an outside agency in order to determine what clear directives need to be put in place to affect positive change.

    2. Work within the by-laws of the school board to amend the charter to facilitate the removal of teachers who commit child abuse. We acknowledge that there are changes that need to be made to the California Educational Code, however, there are things we can do at the district level to help create tools for the administrators.

    3. Work on appointing an independent special needs advocate who sits on the school board as a non-voting member. We would like to partner with the newly formed Special Needs Committee (BCAC) that was formed as part of the last Board of Educators meeting. Together, we seek to create a positive cohesive unit and advocate for change.

    4. Revamp or Install a parental notification system to notify parents of the issues at school (behavior, lice, bullying)

    Here is the link to our petition as well: https://www.change.org/petitions/brentwood-union-school-district-board-of-brentwood-ca-fire-busd-superintendent-m-grant-from-his-office#share

  2. This is very helpful considering all the articles everywhere and so much info at once. It’s a nice format.

  3. As a parent in Brentwood, this still breaks my heart. No amount of money will ever fix this and the only appropriate action is removing anyone involved at any level. If the board doesn’t remove those involved, it gives the impression that beating on a defenseless child is okay

  4. Thanks for putting this all in chronological order. This whole thing makes me sick, but hopefully the community will put enough pressure to make sure this NEVER happens again.

    It is too bad that the parents had to sue the district which basically equals a million dollars. The only thing worse is that the school doesn’t pay a dime. That burden falls on the district, aka; citizens. No wonder the school administrators are so passive (Not one red cent came out of their paychecks).

    IMHO, The teacher should have been dismissed and the parents should not have been awarded such a large sum. Then system is clearly as dysfunctional as the teacher.

  5. Seeing the timeline makes me even more angry that the Board doesn’t get it and the Superintendent doesn’t get it. Seeing this in order makes it all the more clear that changes need to be made from the Superintendent, the teacher, the aids, the principal and the Board! Start fresh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. This entire situation makes me want to throw up. Pathetic leadership. Remove them all! This timeline was very helpful.

  7. Much more thoughtful response than the idea of a “sick out”. Good timeline, it is very helpful.

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