Sexual Abuse Surfaces in LAUSDWednesday, July 22, 2009 By Humna Ali
The Los Angeles School Unified District (LAUSD) has tried its best to eradicate any violent behavior in order to protect students. However, the district has been unsuccessful lately, especially in the most important area: the relationship between teachers and students. In 2008, Steve Thomas Rooney was accused of kidnapping a thirteen year-old female student and sexually assaulting her at Markham Middle School, where Rooney worked, as reported in the LA Times (5/10/09). Since then, four more female students have claimed to be sexually assaulted. Two were from Foshay Learning Center and two others from Markham Middle School. Rooney, who served as assistant principal, had the guts to plead not guilty, and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for next month. Is anyone really doing a satisfactory job in controlling such perverts? Rooney, for example, was arrested in 2007 at Foshay Learning Center in the Exposition Park area, where he had been a dean. The police found evidence in Rooney’s home that hinted to a possible sexual relationship with a female student. Unfortunately, the 17 year-old student did not cooperate with the investigation, so the corrupt Rooney went free. Irresponsibly, the officials in LAUSD did not conduct their own search. Rooney was merely assumed innocent due to the lack of a charge, and he was reassigned to Markham Middle school. Now he has been once again accused and is being charged. This is not a first for LAUSD. At 37th Street Early Education Center in 1995, a nine-year old reported that Ricardo Guerva took her into a closet and asked her to take off her pants. Yet, the police claimed the girl gave inconsistent accounts, so Guerva was not charged. In 2002 and 2003 he was accused of touching students in inappropriate areas. Disastrously, the schools that hired him were unaware of past allegations made against him. It is unforgivable that before last year, school officials were unable to track accusations of molestation or other serious crimes against their employees. The district said that files containing misconduct allegations were not sent to new campuses in order to protect employee privacy. Student safety must not be overlooked.