In yet another embarrassment for one of the nation’s largest public school systems, Robert Pimentel, 57, a fourth grade teacher is in custody on suspicion of sexually assaulting 20 of his female students and one adult.
A previous report of sexual misconduct against Pimentel occurred four years ago at the school, and another complaint was made eight years ago at another elementary school where both a female principal and Pimentel had worked, said district Superintendent John Deasy
"My determination was that she was previously mishandling other complaints," Deasy said. "My intent was to fire them."
The district never got the chance because both Pimentel and the principal retired after the allegations surfaced last March.
"You can't fire someone who doesn't work for you," Deasy said.
Police said they will review the principal's failure to report those previous allegations.
It took nearly a year to bring charges against Pimentel and the investigation began just weeks after the arrest of another Los Angeles elementary school teacher, Mark Berndt, who has pleaded not guilty to 23 counts of lewd conduct involving students.
Following that scandal, the district mandated that parents be notified within 72 hours of a report of a suspected abuser, and that each case be reviewed by several human resources staffers to ensure it is reported to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
District officials vowed to investigate molestation claims and move quickly to remove suspected teachers from classrooms while investigations are ongoing, which apparently occurred in Pimentel's case.
Police were contacted in March by the parents of five students who said Pimentel had touched their children inappropriately. District officials immediately removed him from campus and notifications were sent out.