Government

Lodi Unified School District Sued Again!


Court CostsSomewhere near the intersection of arrogance and negligence lies Lodi Unified’s next lawsuit.  Currently, L.U.S.D. owns the dubious distinction of being named in over 40 lawsuits in San Joaquin County alone.  The question is why?

Well some would say, it’s those damn lawyers, still others might blame people who seem to want something for nothing, still others might believe that all these lawsuits are frivolous and without merit, substance or worth.  And, every once in a while, they would be right.

However, the plain fact of the matter is, the over whelming majority of legal actions filed by licensed attorneys against Lodi Unified School District have merit, substance, and with few exceptions, the plaintiff’s always win.  After reading some of the District’s more recent lawsuits I found one that seems to exemplify the District’s legal challenges better than most.  As the lawyers would say:  Herewith please find “Exhibit A” the short title: Singh v. Lodi Unified School District.  And, as the lawyers are also fond of saying: “The document speaks for itself.”

Although there must be at least a dozen different ways to describe this complaint, like most of the District’s law suits, they start with angry people who feel as though they are being ignored.  Most studies dealing with malpractice [in any profession] always point to how the customer, patient, student [or teacher] was treated.

Most of the people who sue do so because they feel they were left with no other choice.  They were ignored, dismissed, neglected and offered no respect or deference.  The plaintiffs in this particular case made phone calls that were not returned, they wrote letters that were left unanswered, they would ask for meetings in which their complaints were expressed yet completely unheard. They were patronized, dismissed and quickly forgotten.  Then, they sued.

The top administrators and the School Board have a duty to parents, students and teachers. Many times they breach that duty.  And you ask: “How do they breach that duty?”  Coincidentally, they breach their duty to their constituents by their unwillingness to listen and take appropriate action. So, having no other alternative the ignored and dispossessed [the very angry] get an attorney and they sue.  By way of example:

On Line 12, Page 5 (Singh v. Lodi Unified School District) it states:

In August of 2006, many teachers and staff at Christa McAuliffe Middle School (“CMMS”) began talking to each other about Russom Mesfun (Principal at CMMS) harassing and discriminatory acts.  Many teachers and staff made multiple contacts with Barbara Johnston (Mesfun’s direct supervisor), Odie Douglas (District Associate Superintendent, William Huyett (District Superintendent), Ken Davis (School Board President), and Len Castenega (District Director of Personnel) and informed the District of the Principals unlawful harassing, retaliatory, and discriminatory acts.

In May of 2007, Duncan and other teachers met with Barbara Johnston, District Assistant Superintendent and informed the District of the principal’s continuing harassment and discrimination of teachers and staff at CMMS on the basis of age, race, gender, and disability.

If all this was not enough, Michelle Willbourn, the parent of a student at CMMS and a former Parent-Teacher Association President, reported to school officials that the Principal made “grossly inappropriate” comments “of a sexual nature” directed at her.  The “top administrators” knew of these matters and did nothing.

Relating to plaintiff Tracy Singh: Commencing in July of 2006 and continuing thereafter, the defendant Principal, with the knowledge and consent of the District, began a series of actions and events designed to injure, discredit, shame, embarrass, harass, defame, discriminate against, retaliate against and harm the plaintiff Singh.

I spoke with Stephen R. Jaffe, a San Francisco based attorney, at some length about this case.  In abstract summation, Mr. Jaffe feels very good about his client’s chances to prevail in this suit.  In Mr. Jaffe’s complaint he cites (9) nine separate theories of recovery for damages on behalf of three teachers at Christa McAuliffe Middle School.

I ask you, what would have happened if the top administrators or school board members had taken action when first put on notice?  What if someone listened then appropriately intervened?  We will never know.  All we know for sure is the suit has been filed and has been vigorously litigated.  My guess, it will cost the District hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees not to mention a hefty payout if Mr. Jaffe’s clients prevail.

The District pays somewhere between hundreds of thousands and millions to like kind complaints.  Couldn’t we put that money to better use?  Wouldn’t it be great if the top administrators and the Lodi Unified School Board were responsive to their constituents?

Epilogue is Prologue

Since this article was published [more than a year ago] the principal has left the District.  Dr. Barbara Johnston has left the District. A few months after aforementioned suit was filed, Mr. Jaffe and his clients were [quietly] paid a rather very large sum of money to drop the suit.  Although the plaintiffs can’t say how much they were paid, it suffices to say they were “happy” with the lump sum payment and have moved on with their lives.

The Lodi School Board remain on the job; at least for a few more months.  Since the time this article was first published the District has been sued over-and-over again for the same exact thing; negligence.  In non-legal terms, the District’s administrators get sued for not doing their jobs.  Administrators are paid to “administrate” in most cases that means supervise.  Why are we paying so much for so little?  This question continues to remain unanswered.

EdUmacator

About LODI360 Editor

Keith Colgan is the Editor of LODI360.com and owner of Keith Colgan Photography

Discussion

9 thoughts on “Lodi Unified School District Sued Again!

  1. Hello again people! Since I posted my last comment,my youngest daughter has graduated from high school…..The situation was resolved by me putting her in an alternative school,and she graduated early.This wasn’t necessarily how I wanted it to go,but it turned out to be a good decision on my part…

    Now,I’m having a real issue with my 4th grader’s school,Sutherland Elementary…
    There seems to be a real issue with these teachers making inappropriate comments to kids,and bullying by teachers as well…I don’t know if its because there are so many kids that aren’t be adequately raised,alcohol fetal syndrome babies,or crack babies,that the general attitude about kids has become less than encouraging…Smh…We are no longer dealing with educators….We are dealing with uneducated people,who need to reevaluate there career choices,or just retire already…

    Posted by yvette scott | May 21, 2015, 4:47 pm
    • So,all I really have to say is,Lodi School District sucks big time,and someone needs to revamp the whole district….All teachers,and facilitators need to be given sensitivity training,made to pass special psychological testing,and be made to take any and all continual training that keeps them up to date career wise……It’s a priveledge to be a teacher,and just like any job,you need to have what it takes to be a good one..If you lack compassion,patience,or the ability to shape and mold young minds to become great minds,then teaching isn’t a good career choice for you..

      Posted by yvette scott | May 21, 2015, 5:06 pm
  2. So,getting to the point….On the way home from school ,going down West Lane,she and her friend we’re followed by 15 to 20 girls that had been spotted by campus security,as they approached the corner of Morada and West Lane..Nothing was done,and my daughter and her friend continued walking as usual..They noticed this mob following them and my daughter called me frantic! Before I could get to them,the mob jumped them.My daughter was kicked in the head,and ribs repeatedly.Her friend was jumped twice.Back to back…1St by the mob,and then by the girl who initiated the mob’s mother,and another woman.They beat her friend up so bad that she peed on herself,and they laughed as they threw her in a garbage can! There were numerous witnesses,and 911 calls..There were even people that followed the mother and write down her license plate#,but the school won’t do anything about it,and neither have the police at this point.I really need an attorney.Don’t U think???!!!!!! If anyone can help,please call 2092141481!I’m beyond angry!!!!!

    Posted by Yvette Scott | May 1, 2014, 1:30 am
  3. I’m a parent of children in the Lodi School District,and my daughter is a 11th grader at McNair High…..She has been the victim of bullying since her freshman year.The school officials have done nothing to prevent it,and she was recently attacked by a mob of girls,and suspended for getting jumped…..This is the 3rd time she’s been suspended for defending herself…The ironic thing is,there is supposed to be a “no tolerance”policy,but all of the perpetrators are know problems at the school..So,my question is??? Is it fair to suspend a student for defending themselves against bullies that U r fully aware of,and given the fact that U have been made aware of the potential act of violence before it takes place???? I’ve even had them block me transferring her to force her to continue going there.I have called the school board to complaint,but I never get any help.

    Posted by Yvette Scott | May 1, 2014, 1:02 am
  4. Why is there so much angry confrontation everywhere? Everyone is under pressure, everyone is often unfulfulled and frustrated, everyone is so quick to point the finger of blame at everyone else. Better communication would help. People in charge should function as if there were a student, a parent, a teacher, or a lesser administrator in the room. Those not in charge should try to find out exactly what it takes to function for the best while balancing state and local laws, federal interference, and the widely varying needs of teachers and students at multiple schools, each of which may have its own individual site problems. Add lack of enough funds to this mix—!!!!!!?????? I don’t see how anyone has the bravery to run for school board or city council or any other in-charge group. First rule–be open, honest, and responsible,. Second rule–don’t take extra “perks” (credit cards, vehicles allowances, etc) in these tough financial times. And for everyone in the mix at all levels–communicate, and BE PATIENT. Do what you can to help fix a situation, not make it worse. Remember, when you point a finger at someone else, four fingers are pointing back at you.

    Posted by Former teacher | September 10, 2010, 11:55 am
  5. It appears Lodi Unified School District has just found its next law suit. I hope the parents of the girl who got hit sue the %&*% out of LUSD.

    Posted by Lodian2 | September 2, 2010, 6:57 pm
  6. Rick,

    The LUSD budget is a black hole. Trying to find real information regarding the way this District is run is all but impossible. I guess that’s why (during this current depression) Mr. Barge (the guy who cooks the books for the District) got a raise.

    Posted by sweetsue | August 24, 2010, 11:13 am
  7. Does anyone know how much Lodi Unified School District pays attorneys each year? Where can we find that in LUSD’s 300 plus-page budget?

    Posted by Roadrunner | August 24, 2010, 11:10 am
  8. Who is the lawyer used by Christa McAuliffe? We could use that person at Lodi Middle School. There is at Lodi Middle that was “directed” by the principal not to communicate with anyone on the campus unless he give that person 24 hours notice and have a third party present. There is a teacher at Lodi Middle, that according to the Lodi New-Sentinel, was “battered” by a student, (no matter how miner the incendent) and the studdent ONLY got 3 days suspension and removed from the teacher’s class. The teacher still has daily contact with the student. Lodi Midddle Administration and Lodi PD BOTH droped the ball on this one. They could have sent a message to the ALL the students that ANY action like this will not be tolerated. There are more things that goes on at this school. Now is the time to stand up.
    If anyone knows of the McAuliffe lawyer contact someone at Lodi Middle School.

    Posted by Dale Young | August 19, 2010, 12:04 pm

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