A new sexual abuse case involving a longtime Los Angeles teacher and, allegedly, 20 young students renews focus on record of reform in the nation's second largest school district. The case signals progress in more timely reporting of such allegations and swift notification of parents.
The arrest of Robert Pimentel, a longtime fourth-grade teacher accused of sexually abusing 20 students, has once again thrust the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) into the spotlight.
The case prompts questions about how much progress has been made since another district teacher was charged a year ago for lewd conduct with more than 20 young students.
The district has made several policy changes in the past year, and advocates for abuse victims hope that attention to the issue will prompt further changes throughout California, and even nationally.
“I’m seeing more reporting of [such] incidents around the county.... Now we need to train and teach so that it doesn’t keep happening,” says Charol Shakeshaft, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., and an expert witness on behalf of a student who was molested by a teacher and recently won a $6.9 million in a jury verdict against LAUSD. “There are lots of ways to see and stop [student abuse] early,” she says.
Law enforcement officials began investigating Mr. Pimentel in March, after several girls told their parents that he had touched them inappropriately at the George De La Torre Jr. Elementary School in Wilmington, Calif.
The district responded quickly – one result of improvements made since last year’s shocking allegations of abuse at Miramonte Elementary School.
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