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Brentwood principal transferring to district office after handling of child abuse allegations is probed -

Brentwood principal transferring to district office after handling of child abuse allegations is probed -

Brentwood principal transferring to district office after handling of child abuse allegations is probed

Updated:   06/08/2013 03:28:24 PM PDT

BRENTWOOD -- A school principal whose handling of child abuse allegations was being investigated by the school district will be leaving her post and taking a job in the district office, the Brentwood school district said Saturday.
The founding principal of Loma Vista Elementary, Lauri James led the school for 14 years until last month, when she was placed on administrative leave. While Brentwood police found no basis for allegations made last month that a Loma Vista special education teacher kicked a student down a slide, as a witness claimed, district officials said the school administration did not notify police, the district office or the child's parents about the investigation in a timely manner.
In response
Lauri James, principal of Loma Vista Elementary School sits in the back of a overcrowded room fanning herself while she listens to parents complaints during a Brentwood Union School District school board meeting held in Brentwood, Calif., on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013. (SUSAN TRIPP POLLARD)
to reporters' queries about rumors spreading on social media, the district issued a statement about the personnel change and the child abuse investigation:
"Lauri James has agreed to a position in the Curriculum and Instruction department in the district office for the 2013-14 school year and will be leaving her position as principal at Loma Vista School. Ms. James has served Loma Vista since its opening 14 years ago and her leadership has contributed to the thriving school program that exists there today. With the goal of continuing Loma Vista's success, the district will immediately begin a process involving the staff and parent community in selecting a new principal for the upcoming school year.
"The district arranged for an independent investigation of a report of possible child abuse at Loma Vista Elementary School and the subsequent handling of the report. Concurrently, the Brentwood Police Department conducted an investigation and found no basis of wrongdoing. The investigation is concluded and we have debriefed with the investigator. The investigation is closed and the findings are now a personnel matter."
All school employees who work with children are "mandated reporters" with a legal duty to report any suspicions of abuse to police or Child Protective Services immediately by phone, and then through a written report within 36 hours.
James has previously faced scrutiny about her response to abuse allegations at her school. In 2010, former special education teacher Dina Holder kicked a 5-year-old child with autism -- an attack for which Holder was later convicted. Although James investigated the incident internally, she did not inform the authorities until after the state law required. The district reached a $950,000 settlement with the victim's family this year and Superintendent Merrill Grant was eventually fired.
But at a recent Brentwood school board meeting, a group of faculty and staff members spoke out in support of James. Some teachers said James' absence had hit the Loma Vista campus hard and that these incidents have harmed the district's reputation in the community.
Fourth-grade teacher Danielle Childs said James has brought respect, responsibility and an infectious spirit to the district.
"She is a leader that lets us put the children's best interests first," Childs said.


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