Families of Eight Special Needs Students Sue BUSD Claiming Teacher Abuse

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It’s being reported that families of eight special needs students sued Dina Holder,  Merrill Grant, and several Brentwood Union School District employees claiming they did not report abuse suspicious appropriately and properly alert the community that Holder was a convicted child abuser.

The federal lawsuit alleges the following people below violated the students’ civil rights and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  •  Loma Vista Elementary School teacher Dina Holder
  • Former Loma Vista Principal Lauri James
  • Superintendent Merrill Grant
  • Assistant Superintendent Margaret Kruse
  • Director of special education Margo Olson
  • Jean Anthony

The District already settled with a family for $950,000 after kicking an autistic child as he lay on the floor.

Dina Holder Transcript:
http://eastcountytoday.net/busd-dina-holder-deposition-transcript/

Lauri James Transcript:
http://eastcountytoday.net/busd-lauri-james-deposition-transcript/

Here is a Timeline of the events  below which we published on Feb 1, 2013; however, we have since added to it below.

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

February  22, 2013
Superintendent Merrill Grant on administrative leave effective immediately, and disciplined three other district employees after a marathon 4-hour closed session meeting

February 28, 2013
Superintendent Merrill Grant was fired in a 4-1 board vote.

May 20, 2013
Interim Superintendent Doug Adams placed Lauri James on administrative leave after a second incident where she failed to properly report potential abuse.

Adams wrote:

Upton being informed of the incident, on May 16, the District administrator contacted the Principal and the parent who observed the incident. We asked the principal to notify law enforcement regarding the complaint. We learned that the Principal had conducted an internal investigation after receiving the May 6th report, and informed the teacher of the complaint. On May 6, the teacher contacted the parent of the student and explained the incident. Based on internal investigation and the discussion between the teacher and the parent, the Principal did not inform anyone in District Administration or law enforcement about the incident.

I placed the Principal and teacher on administrative leave pending the outcome of the police investigation and a thorough, objective, internal investigation. I ask you remember that administrative leave is not an indication of wrongdoing and that this incident may not have been an instance of abuse.

June 2013
Lauri James transferred as Loma Vista Principal to a district office position.

 

1 COMMENT

  1. This is no surprise to me. I have a child that is ADD/ADHD who has in the past came home complaining about the verbal and physical abuse that he’s either been involved in or witnessed school officials doing. I reported it to the school officials and to my surprise it had been swept under the rug and was given the excuse that my child was causing abruption in class and does not pay attention, which short attention span is one of the many causes off ADD. After many complaints then retaliation was made against us, the parents. You think as parents when leaving your special needs child in the care of the school with trained school officials that everything will be okay, but after I myself witnessing the abuse was very frightening…. I remember contacting the Superintendent office and again surprise. …no call back. After leaving so many messages and being ignored continuously I unwillingly let it go.

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