KANSAS AVENUE — School district officials plan to launch an investigation into a sexual harassment allegation involving a male teacher at Edison Language Academy and two female colleagues.
The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District was notified several weeks ago that an instructor reportedly made an anti-gay comment to the teachers about two male students kissing in class, adding that he would not have minded if the interaction had instead involved girls. He then proceeded by suggestively putting his arm around the female teachers, according to one of their husbands, Rafael Garcia-Rangel.
Garcia-Rangel, whose wife is first grade teacher Veronica Nuñez-Garcia, contacted Mike Matthews, the assistant superintendent for human resources, on Jan. 16 about the alleged incident earlier that week, describing the encounter between the school employees.
“The coach … notified my wife and her colleague that ‘two of your boys (students) were playing a kissing game with each other,’” Garcia-Rangel wrote in an e-mail to Matthews. “Then he said, ‘had it been two girls though I wouldn’t have said anything.
“My wife responded by stating ‘this is when I walk away’ and did so.”
Nuñez-Garcia, who declined to comment for the article, later told the teacher that his comments were sexist, discriminatory and inappropriate, according to the e-mail. Her husband followed up a few days later demanding the teacher be terminated immediately.
“My wife has been filled with anxiety this entire weekend and we expect a quick and affirmative response to this incident,” Garcia-Rangel said.
Matthews said that the allegation will be investigated under the district’s sexual harassment policy.
“If we find any wrongdoing, we will take action with the employee with the intent of stopping it,” Matthews said in an interview. “If something were to occur again, we would take more dramatic action.
“We want all employees to feel safe at all times and that is what the policy is intended to do.”
Matthews said he could not comment on the specifics of the case because it is a personnel matter.
Edison Language Academy is one of 11 elementary schools in the district. The school, which has an enrollment of about 425 students, is unique in that courses are taught in both English and Spanish.
Principal Lori Orum did not respond to a request seeking comment.