After NBC4 confronted the school district in May about information released during the deposition of a former employee regarding the shredding of two decades worth of child abuse records in 2008, a spokesman for the district admitted the allegation was true.
“We felt we didn’t have a right to have them,” said spokesman Sean Rossall of Cerrell and Associates, an outside public relations firm hired by the Sedgewick Lawfirm to handle media inquiries about the continued child abuse litigation against LAUSD.
On May 2, Rossall released a statement claiming the district had “checked with LA County officials prior to” destroying the documents, telling NBC4 it was county law enforcement with which the District spoke.
Now it appears some of those Suspected Child Abuse Reports (“SCAR”) have been found.
In a “Motion for Clarification” filed by LAUSD attorneys in court Friday, district officials say they believe the state’s Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act does not permit it to retain the reports and it is asking the judge to clarify whether the recently discovered documents can be destroyed.
“The School District has recently concluded an extensive review of warehoused documents not related to this litigation,” the filing states. “In the course of that review, a box was found that, although not indicated on its label, was approximately half-full of copies of Reports that had not been destroyed.”
Rossall maintains the reports are copies of what law enforcement already has. In a statement to NBC4 on Friday he says, “We are acting transparently and bringing this discovery to the court’s attention, so the court can make its own assessment about what should happen to the documents in the context of the litigation.”
Attorneys for the Miramonte child abuse plaintiffs say the district is playing games with the court. Brian Claypool who represents 15 alleged victims says he’s not surprised, “They have already been sanctioned $6,500 for intentionally hiding and concealing photographs of many of the children being abused.”
Claypool is referring to the sanctions placed by Judge John Sheperd Wiley in June for what he called an “abuse of discovery.”
John Manley, representing additional alleged victims says he doesn’t believe the reports were “recently” found, believing rather that the district has known about the existence of the reports for months and “simply hid them.”
“These reports identify many child molesters who were LAUSD employees,” Manly said. “The District has simply concealed them including those related to Mark Berndt. The victims and the public deserve the truth about LAUSD’s cover up of child molesters. We will be addressing this very serious matter with the court next week.”
LAUSD officials would not say how many reports were destroyed in 2008 or how many were found in the latest discovery. NBC4 has asked repeatedly for information about who authorized the shredding of the child abuse reports in 2008 and that question has also been left unanswered. Claypool thinks the district’s moves in the ongoing civil cases will not trick a jury, set for trial on Nov. 4.
“At trial in November, the community will finally see shocking evidence confirming a massive LAUSD cover up at Miramonte,” he said.
NBC4 continues to investigate the LA School District.
Multiple requests for public records remain pending within the District’s General Counsel office since June 16, including billing statements from the Sedgewick and Andrade law firms representing the LAUSD, with a pricetag believed to be upwards of $6 million for taxpayers over the last two years.