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LAUSD victim blaming backfires, White House honors Camino Nuevo

LA School Report | September 17, 2015

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school report buzzBy arguing in court that a 14-year-old girl was partly responsible for her own sexual abuse at the hands of her teacher has not only brought LA Unified a string of negative press, it has backfired terribly and now bought on a new trial.

The state Court of Appeal has ordered a new trial in the case of a former student at Edison Middle School who was coaxed into sex by her teacher, Elkis Hermida, the Los Angeles Times reported. The girl sued LA Unified, which won the original trial after its lawyer introduced her sexual history and argued that the girl was partly to blame because she concealed the relationship from her parents and school authorities.

But after the controversial legal tactics were reported in the media, the district fell under heavy criticism — to the point that In July, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that bars defendants accused of sexually abusing minors in civil suits from arguing that the sex was consensual.

LA Unified fired lawyer W. Keith Wyatt after be gave an interview where he inartfully explained his legal theories that helped him win the case. But then, somewhat inexplicably, the district hired another lawyer who made the same argument in the appeal.

This very predictably spurred another round of bad headlines for the district. Now, as a result of those arguments, a new trial has been ordered, because introducing that evidence “wrongly portrayed [the victim] in a negative light and was highly prejudicial,” Judge Richard H. Kirschner wrote.

He added, “On appeal, the District continues to maintain that a minor student who is the victim of sexual abuse by a teacher bears responsibility for preventing that abuse. The District was wrong in the trial court and is wrong now. There is no case or statutory authority or persuasive reasoning supporting the notion that students sexually victimized by their teachers can be contributorily responsible for the harm they suffer.”

Time for a third lawyer in the case?

CLASS pulls out the red pen on LAUSD

Earlier this year the Communities for Los Angeles Student Success (CLASS) commissioned a study that concluded LA Unified is not properly spending the money in Local Control Funding Formula money that is supposed to helps students in foster care, English-Language Learners and those living in poverty. In case you missed it the first time, the group has now issued a report card based on the report that grades LA Unified in specific areas of its LCFF implementation.

The report on the report judged three areas — Targeting Dollars, Strategies that Lift Student Achievement and School, Student, Parent and Community Engagement — on a scale of zero to four over the last two years, and the district scored no higher than two in any category, meaning the money met no better than “partial” goals of the implementation.

Camino Nuevo Charter Academy gets White House award

Camino Nuevo Charter Academy is getting some love from the White House this week after being selected for the Bright Spot Award by The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

“Camino Nuevo is a shining example of a public charter school with excellent results that is helping close the achievement gap for Hispanic students,” Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, said in a statement. “We are thankful to the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics for accepting our nomination and recognizing Camino Nuevo, which tells a great story of a school that is preparing students from some of the most underserved areas of Los Angeles for college and life.”



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