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Moffitt put on leave at Tenya

PUBLIC MEETING: Big Oak Flat-Groveland Unified School District Board of Trustees, 6 p.m. today, Tenaya Elementary School, Room 24, 19177 Highway 120, Groveland. 

 

Tenaya Elementary School Principal Susan Moffitt remains on administrative leave today as the Big Oak Flat-Groveland Unified School District Board of Trustees holds its first public meeting since her temporary ouster during a closed-door meeting last week. 

Last week’s “special meeting,” along with a previous one in November, were an apparent reaction by the board to numerous parent concerns raised about Moffitt’s fitness for the position.

The controversy involves Moffitt’s failure to inform law enforcement officials about reports a teacher was molesting children at a campus in Tracy where she formerly worked. 

Moffitt has since been sued by the parents of an alleged victim at Anthony Traina Elementary School, where she served as principal. 

Darrell Golden, a former Traina fourth-grade teacher, was charged in August with 33 counts of child molestation. There are a dozen alleged victims.

Yet suspicions of Golden’s activities weren’t reported to police until 2012 by another employee. That was six years after the first allegation was brought to the attention of school officials, including Moffitt.

School employees are required by law to report suspicions of student abuse to the authorities. The school officials, however, handled the complaints administratively, according to documents filed in the civil suit in San Joaquin County Superior Court.

The lawsuit claims Moffitt and other administrators broke the law in failing to report claims of inappropriate touching and uses some of Moffitt’s own grand jury testimony to back its claims of her inaction. 

Moffitt left Traina and joined Tenaya in 2012 and has continued to serve as a principal despite the claims against her.

The BOFGUSD Board formerly planned to take no action in relations to Moffitt because she was not being criminally charged. However, several parents called for her to be put on leave, if not fired, at the last board meeting. 

Erin Deiters is a parent of a Tenaya student who spoke at the last public meeting and will attend tonight’s meeting. 

“We’re very pleased at her being put on leave, because the board originally had no intention of taking action,” she said. “We want to continue the push, though.”

Deiters said she has personally contacted about 60 parents who have indicated they would sign a petition demanding Moffitt’s release. 

Deiters has been meeting with a group of local parents and has also been in touch with a group of Traina parents insulted by Moffitt’s continued employment, she said. 

She said many parents are expected at the board meeting tonight, possibly even parents from Traina, but icy roads may deter them.

“We can’t get justice for Golden, but we can stop passing the trash,” she said. “That’s what they feel happened to them.” 

The board has not said much publicly about the issue, citing law regarding personnel matters. 

“The board finds itself in a difficult position while trying to do what’s best for the kids and the school,” said board President Ian Morcott, “and we’re taking some time to think.” 

Superintendent Dave Urquhart also would not say much about the issue, including what the actual plan of action is for Moffitt’s employment.

He said the district is analyzing the situation and has appointed long-time teacher Rob Egger as interim principal.

Tonight’s meeting will include a presentation to the public on the board’s policy on “mandated reporting” as well as more personnel discussions in closed session. 

Tonight is the annual organizational meeting for the board, meaning a board president and clerk will be elected. 

Also on the agenda is the approval of the first interim budget for the 2014-15 school year and approval of some school equipment purchases.


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