DOWNTOWN — A math teacher at Santa Monica High School who was found to have violated the school district’s sexual harassment policy has filed an appeal to block the release of his personnel records.
The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District was ordered to release the records earlier this month by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ruth Kwan, who felt the public’s right to know what kind of contact Marken had with a 13-year-old female student outweighed his right to privacy.
Marken’s attorneys filed the appeal on March 18. Kwan ordered the school district to keep the personnel records sealed until the appeal is heard, which may not happen for at least six months, possibly a year, those familiar with the appeals process said.
Superintendent Tim Cuneo told the Daily Press that the district was prepared to release the records to parents, but will abide by the judge’s order.
Michael Chwe, a parent with two children at Samohi, filed a California Public Records Act request in December with the superintendent’s office in an attempt to learn more about the investigation involving Marken.
That was after more than 140 people signed a letter expressing disapproval of the district’s handling of the case, asking for more information about the incident.
The school district was in the process of responding to Chwe’s request when Marken filed a motion to block the release of the records.
Chwe said he has filed a lawsuit against the school district, claiming it failed to turn over the personnel file in a timely fashion, allowing Marken time to file a request for an injunction barring its release.
In her ruling, Judge Kwan said the violation of the district’s sexual harassment policy by Marken was at the lower end of the spectrum, but even so, she felt parents have a right to know what occurred.
The district’s sexual harassment policy includes everything from making inappropriate jokes or drawings to teasing and touching someone’s clothes in a sexual way, as well as making unwanted sexual advances.
The father of the victim told the Daily Press that he still doesn’t know exactly what happened to his daughter, who told him she did not want to return to Samohi and is now attending school out of the country.
Marken’s attorney, Richard Schwab, said his client is a well respected teacher and that the charges against him were of the lowest level, calling them “trivial.”