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Vladovic Apologizes, Escapes Further Board Action — For Now

Hillel Aron | October 8, 2013

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Richard Vladovic

Richard Vladovic

After a tense, four-hour closed meeting with his LA Unified Board colleagues, President Richard Vladovic opened a brief public session admitting that he had violated the district’s code of conduct and apologizing to employees he may have harmed.

“I did get upset at people,” he said. “I did tell them things I shouldn’t have told them.” He said he has a “passion for the district, and I believe in my passion I crossed the line, and I intend to never do it again.” He also conceded he has sought “professional help.”

Vladovic suggested that some on the board were reluctant to accept his mea culpa: “I’m saying it publicly, so that this issue doesn’t cloud other issues affecting the board. And I know all of my colleagues don’t agree with that. But I must accept responsibility.”

The sudden admission came two weeks after an outside firm concluded an investigation into allegations of verbal and sexual harassment against Vladovic, some of them from years ago. Details were kept out of public view until Monday night, when district officials released documents involving two accusers. One case described events that could be interpreted as sexual harassment; the other, verbal.

In his apology, Vladovic made no specific reference to the charges although his admission of improper behavior seemed directed only at accusations of berating and intimidating employees, rather than any allegations with sexual or homophobic overtones.

Vladovic and his spokesman, Mike Trujillo, had “categorically denied” all of the charges but one – “occasionally using his outdoor voice.”

After the meeting, Trujillo said that Vladovic’s apology was only meant in reference to complaints about his temper.

“The apology is regarding raising his voice, which is like a drill sergeant raising his voice in boot camp,” Trujillo said, adding that Vladovic still maintains his innocence for all other charges. “The apology you heard today was acknowledging something he did in the past. He’s still board president and plans on continuing to serve the children and parents of our districts.”

The board spent considerable time in the closed session debating whether to take any punitive action against Vladovic, who was elected president earlier this year. The board has the power to censure him and even remove him as president. But people who were briefed after the meeting said members were unable to reach consensus on what, if anything, to do. It was their understanding that the question lingers and could arise at the board’s next public meeting, on Oct. 29.

Vladovic promised he’s a changed man from the one described in the complaints.

“You will see, and have seen, a more civil attitude form me, as I’ve reflected over it,” he said, adding, “There’s a better way to do things. I found that way, and we’re going to move forward.”

Before the meeting began, according to the LA Daily News reporter, Barbara Jones, a CBS news crew asked Vladovic about the charges. He said he was “innocent.”  Board member Marguerite LaMotte asked him to repeat that louder, then walked over and gave him a comforting kiss on the cheek. Vladovic looked pale and shaken.

The Board voted unanimously to approve Mayor Eric Garcetti staffer Abigail Marquez to the bond oversight committee. They then listened to public comments, the last of which was given by LaMotte herself, who told Vladovic that she admired him for his patience, and said, “I commend you and ask you to continue this fight.”

Previous posts: Complaints Against Vladovic Are Available for ViewingBoard to Review Vladovic Charges in Closed SessionVladovic Denies Sexual Harassment, Other Claims;  Vladovic Investigation Concluded; Board Members are Briefed*

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