Part of the Bay Area News Group

Mt. Diablo school district interim superintendent responds to arrest of Woodside Elementary teacher on suspicion of child abuse

By Theresa Harrington
Saturday, June 29th, 2013 at 1:21 pm in Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

According to Concord police, Woodside Elementary teacher Joseph Andrew Martin, who taught fourth and fifth grades at the Concord school, has been arrested on suspicion of repeatedly sexually abusing a child. Here is our story about the arrest:
http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_23565623/concord-elementary-school-teacher-suspected-sexually-abusing-student.

This morning, the Times received the following statement from John Bernard, interim superintendent of the Mt. Diablo school district, about the arrest:

“The Mt. Diablo Unified School District is saddened and disturbed by the recent arrest of a teacher at Woodside Elementary School in Concord.

Our staff has been working with the Concord Police Department since this was brought to our attention in late April 2013.

The teacher in question was removed immediately and has not returned to the campus.

While we cannot comment on the on-going investigation, our prayers and supportive thoughts are with the victims and their families.

We strongly encourage anyone with information about this investigation to contact the Concord Police Department.”

A hotline has been established at 925-603-5836 for those who may have additional information or for any potential additional victims.

Are you satisfied with the district’s response?

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

  • soooo frustrated

    Annie CSEA,

    I have a question for you totally not related to anything posted here…not a complaint, just a point of clarification needed. I was wondering if you would be willing to post an email where I could send you my question.

  • http://yahoo Annie CSEA

    If you are a member of CSEA it’s in every news letter and my number also. Call or Email

  • soooo frustrated

    Annie,

    Ok Thanks!

  • Doctor J

    Police investigating school district for failure to mandatory report — no its not MDUSD but in Redlands. Good analysis of the duty to report to law enforcement as opposed to no duty to investigate on behalf of the district. I wonder if the Concord Police will investigate MDUSD ? http://www.pe.com/local-news/san-bernardino-county/san-bernardino-county-headlines-index/20130711-redlands-police-investigating-school-district-in-teacher-sex-case.ece

  • Theresa Harrington

    And here’s an interesting story about an Ohio school board member who helped uncover embezzlement in a district that was secretive about its spending: http://eagnews.org/probing-school-board-member-says-concentrated-power-secrecy-led-to-massive-embezzlement/

  • g
  • fog a spoon

    [NOTE: This comment has been edited to delete a name and unsubstantiated allegation.]

    The district has been reported to everybody known to mankind by employees or ex-employees. If I am to believe what I have heard or been told directly: FBI, CCC Office of Ed, Local police, State insurance investigators, ADL, NAACP, La Raza, you name it. This district is so degraded at this point, what will probably happen is nothing, nothing, nothing, then BAM, everything at once. It is too far gone.

  • fog a spoon

    By the way, feel free to call the white collar crime unit of the Concord Police, they know all the “players” names by now. They have been unwilling due to the fact that it is a school district to take what I consider to be appropriate action leaving a group of employees to go FED. I agree, somebody is going to be in a lot of trouble there at some point. Once the dept of ED gets their hands in it, forget it.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I have received an email from someone who was concerned about comments that make unsubstantiated allegations about named employees, who are not public officials. In response to that concern, I am deleting or editing some previously posted comments. Please do not post comments that attack people by name, especially if they are unsubstantiated allegations. Thank you.

  • Anon too

    Annie – How many times will you go back to Payroll to fix one-off miscalculations before any real action is taken?

    I’m an outsider and find it hard to believe that you continually go to Payroll to have things fixed but never fix the true underlying issue – the incompentence.

    From what I’m reading, Houston we have a problem! Will someone please fix it?

  • Cry me a river

    Well, well, well, the bullies must be whining away. Just have to be dishing it out? Lets leave names out and just say we have a manager, lest call him hypothetically: Mr. Edsel. FYI Antioch Fiscal Manager (don’t even try for it, Mr. Edsel)starts at 7441 to 9525 per month and you must have good communication skills and adopt effective course of action and operate (I assume they don’t cuff it to them)computer equipment. I just found out someone 21 years old (NOT ME)tried to get a home loan with my social. Thanks sensitive Mr. Edsel.

  • Cry me a river

    Also want to say that if an employee does not have access or custody of a child, it would be prudent to find out, since the are working for a school and we seem to not catch things, if this is some sad personal decision or if there is something which would preclude them from working at the district.
    TH you can take names out but don’t let these people bully free speech. If they have a right to show up and act whacko, we should have the right to ask the hard questions!

  • Doctor J
  • Doctor J

    @CryMe Here is a link that as a victim of the theft, you should be able to get PRA access to the following information from Concord PD: Information that must be disclosed: Names and addresses of persons involved in incident; Names and addresses of witnesses (other that confidential informants) to the incident; The description of any property involved; The date, time and location of the incident; All diagrams of the incident; Statements of the parties involved in the incident; and The statements of all witnesses (other than confidential informants). – See more at: http://firstamendmentcoalition.org/public-records-2/cpra-primer/cpra-primer-required-law-enforcement-disclosure/#sthash.o57kO3k4.dpuf

  • Doctor J

    Another court victory yesterday for the PRA against a school district where the newspaper asked for all of the Supt’s emails for a whole year ! http://www.lakeconews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=32180:court-overturns-ruling-requiring-glenn-county-publisher-to-pay-school-districts-costs-in-pra-case&catid=1:latest&Itemid=197

  • anon

    TH, Aware they are firing one employee and fake-firing another one? One has already been told she will not be fired but must show up for a phony hearing. Also one employee had to pursue a restraining order against another employee? Where is the G.D. management? If the employees are acting like kids, so be it, but where is the management? NOT in ANY way believing this laptop was stolen any more, not one bit. If they do fire this employee than it would be open up a firing discussion re lost equipment or not properly stored equipment or securitized equipment!!! Pave the way!! What is the difference between losing electronic data to stupidity or trying to use it, if incorrectly, for some good? Why is the outcome of one employee getting canned and the other going through the motions allowed? Why waste everybody’s time. I dont know about what names you can say or not say but I think a frank discussion about the CFO is long overdue. These are not the people to upgrade the district, these are the people who were in charge while it collapsed. Also, very, very disap in this board. No difference at all except this one does nothing with its heart in the right place. Anybody feel better?

  • anon

    BTW, thank you Dr. J, you are the best! I want to read this police report and may be speaking at a board meeting myself at some point.
    DRUM the BUMS!

  • Doctor J

    Aren’t the MDUSD GRAND JURY RESPONSES about due ? Where has been the public hearing on the responses ? http://www.uniondemocrat.com/News/Local-News/Belleview-Elementary-School-answers-grand-jury

  • Doctor J

    Tomorrow’s school board special meeting agenda, more employee discipline, more lawsuits, labor negotiations, and preliminary consideration of Supt candidates. http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_agendaview.aspx?mtgId=426

  • Flippin’ Tired

    Why is Loreen Joseph still “signing” as the Secretary to the Superintendent? She quit the day after Dr. Lawrence was removed. Isn’t there a substitute Secretary in place?

  • Mad as Heck

    Dear TH, I know we are not supposed to say anything about the little darling’s but can SOMEONE PLEASE TELL PAYROLL TO SEND THE INFORMATION TO WESTERN FEDERAL SO WE CAN GET PAID? I constantly have to call, every payday to get them to do their jobs. Western claims they have tried to get them in line with no luck. Without mentioning names, that department has gone downhill – further downhill. They fight with me on the phone and seem to fight with Western and anybody else. Nobody is trying to be mean we just want you to do your jobs. whatever happened TO LETTING US DIVERT OUR PAYROLL TO THE COUNTY???? We should have that choice but our unions are too weak to take any action. Let us go Teamsters if we want and let us take our finances to the county. Nothing personnel just cutting out the stress. WE CANNOT WITHDRAW MONEY OR PAY BILLS UNTIL YOU DO YOUR JOB! I am sick of this and don’t care about how busy anybody is because this is what you should be busy with, not fighting with everybody. Can’t have it all and cry on your own time!

  • Doctor J

    I wonder who does the audits of the MDUSD Student Body funds and then approves the audits ? When was the last time they were audited ? http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/jul/30/Dana-shelburne-removed-as-princiapl

  • Doctor J

    Answered my own question. ;) They are included in the audit that Christy White does — approved by the Board at the end of last January, and shows there were a few discrepencies in the ASB funds, but no dollar details. Its interesting to compare White’s with the SDUSD audit — San Diego much more complete.

  • Anon

    Anyone heard anything from the board meeting this afternoon?

  • Doctor J

    Here is an excerpt from an article this afternoon — nothing else: “The claim names Martin, former Woodside principal Jennifer Sachs, former Woodside principal Michele Batesole, current Woodside principal Jenny Cronan, former superintendent Steven Lawrence and former general counsel Greg Rolen as district employees who failed to prevent the abuse, alleging officials received allegations against the teacher as early as 2007 but did nothing. State law requires school district employees to report child abuse allegations to police or Child Protective Services.”
    http://www.contracostatimes.com/concord/ci_23770610/concord-11-year-old-boy-claims-teacher-fondled

  • Doctor J

    I just went back and read the Addendums approved for Rolen and Lawrence back in March — both have reimbursement clauses [Rolen #12 & Lawrence #15] if they are guilty of certain things — does any one know if that would include failure to report suspected child abuse by a mandatory reporter where they would have to refund to the district their buyouts ? I just don’t know if that would be true or not. Anyone know ?

  • Anon

    thanks Dr J….anything on the new superintendent?

  • Doctor J

    @Anon#76 Hope Theresa is back tomorrow and can get the “report out”. I still think its important to know the total number of applicants just to judge the interest. They were due 30 days ago, and the Board just had their first meeting to discuss the applicants. As far as the tragedy at Woodside, we now know there are two attorneys involved and this claim discussed today named a cast of characters — once all the victims lawyer-up there could be ten or more lawsuits. Then the shark lawyers will start taking depositions and the cast of characters could easily expand or change. Who told who what and who did they share it with ? See my post #14 above indicates that “A person who fails to make a required report is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or up to a $1000 fine, or both. (P.C. 11166(b)). He or she may also be found civilly liable for
    damages, especially if the child-victim or another child is further victimized because of the failure to report. (Landeros vs. Flood (1976) 17C.3d 399).” Remember that since 2007 we have had 4 Supts and are about to hire another one. Also remember that Rose Lock was Asst Supt over Elementary, and was she told ? It could be like dominos knocking each other over. And don’t forget that it would not be out of the ordinary for the 2007 principal, if she had reasonable suspicion, called her Supt father ? Right now its just speculation, but who knows where the breadcrumbs will lead. Will the district have enough insurance ? Remember the laptop theft may have used up a lot of the insurance depending on how it is written. It all could become very complicated. And lest we forget the victims, it will be a lot for them to go through too.
    Does anyone remember what Greg Rolen said about insurance limits when discussing the laptop theft??

  • Theresa Harrington

    FT: Yes, good question. Joseph now works for the County Office of Ed.

  • anontoo

    Dr. J @76, I am aware that Rolen had no love for Jennifer Sachs, and I do believe that if he had known about the accusations against the teacher, he would have launched a full investigation. Ironically, even though had his own missteps, Rolen would have loathed the activity of the teacher. I do believe he did not know about it at the time.

  • Doctor J

    @Anontoo#80 I don’t want to speculate on who knew what and when did they know it — I hope that no mandated reporter failed to report and would have to carry that guilt of 11 children being molested because of a failure to report. On the other hand, the victims lawyers may be claiming, and I don’t know but it kind of sounded it in the article, that the district did not have the mandated training and other procedures for ensuring that all mandated reporters knew their duty. Who exactly was responsible for that from 2007 forward is pretty unclear in light of the confusion in the training earlier this year where the classified’s were not being trained. Lets also remember that Steven Lawrence was not even hired until February 1, 2010. I just think we are going to have to see how the new General Counsel and the victim’s lawyers sort this whole thing out and “where the bread crumbs lead to”. Its not going to be pretty.

  • Doctor J

    Audio has been posted for yesterday’s Board Meeting. http://www.mdusd.org/boe/Documents/audio/2013/07312013.mp3

  • Teacher

    It is important also to note that it is possible to report something to the proper place and have them tell you they can not do anything because of lack of evidence and/or investigate and not be able to prove allegations.

  • Doctor J

    @Teacher#83 And there is nothing wrong with that, but there will be a written record of the required written follow up report. “Mandated reporters must report to a county child welfare department or to local law enforcement (police or sheriff’s department) immediately by phone. A written report must then be sent within 36 hours by fax, or it may be sent by electronic submission, if a secure system has been made available for that purpose in your county. Written reports must be submitted on the California Suspected Child Abuse Report Form 8572.” See this website: http://mandatedreporterca.com/faq/faq.htm

  • Doctor J

    Speaking of mandatory reporting — is anyone following the Walnut Creek scandal when the investigation into who knew what and when did they know it, went up the chain to the top of city government. This exact kind of investigation might be going on right now in MDUSD. http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_23760288/walnut-creek-city-attorney-resigns-more-fallout-from?IADID=Search-www.contracostatimes.com-www.contracostatimes.com

  • Parent

    Teacher @83 It is my understanding that the 2007 report was made by teachers to the principle. Neither the teachers or the administration contacted CPS.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Parent, We are very interested in finding out more about the alleged 2007 report. Please call me at 945-4764 or email me at tharrington@bayareanewsgroup.com with any information you may be willing to share, on or off the record. You (or anyone else with information about this) can also contact investigative reporter Matthias Gafni at 952-5026 or mgafni@bayareanewsgroup.com or court reporter Malaika Fraley at 234-1684 or mfraley@bayareanewsgroup.com. Thank you.

  • Doctor J

    The Board adopted in 2004 Board Policy and Administrative Regulation 5141.4 which places the responsibility for training the employees on Mandatory Reporting on the Supt. So I guess we add to the cast of characters, the teachers, principal and at least 3 Supt’s: Gary McHenry, Dick Nicoll and Steven Lawrence. The lawyers will have a field day asking them about what training they provided to the employees according to Board Policy and AR. BTW, I had forgot about the terrific article by Theresa and others on the Bay Area News Group survey about Mandatory Reporting. http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_22749690/school-abuse-reporting-training-murky-despite-horrifying-cases

  • Theresa Harrington

    As a reminder, Felicia Stuckey-Smith and Julie Braun-Martin responded in the survey that the district didn’t have a mandatory reporting policy.

  • Doctor J

    @TH#89 Tragic when you think that one is a J.D. that is Director of Student Services and the other is the Assistant Supt for Personnel. Ironically, the AR says: “Within 36 hours of receiving the information concerning the incident, the mandated reporter shall prepare and send to the appropriate agency a written report which includes a completed Department of Justice form. (Penal Code 11166, 11168) A copy of the form should be submitted to the Student Services Office and a copy kept at the school.” Add two more to the cast of characters. If you think the shark lawyers are getting ready for a feeding frenzy, don’t forget the deposition reporters. Maybe the Board should add to the list of questions to the prospective Superintendents: How often do you read the Board Policies, By-laws and Administrative Regulations?

  • Theresa Harrington

    Annie Nolen was sounding the alarm to Julie Braun-Martin and others, begging the district to provide training, but her concerns were not taken seriously until state Superintendent Tom Torlakson asked districts to report on how they were training their employees and the CCT sent out a survey asking what kind of training was being offered: http://youtu.be/_Fr8L3Slyio

    In this video, Nolen says the district wouldn’t have to worry about these lawsuits if it offered proper training to employees.

  • Theresa Harrington

    As a reminder, here are the district’s responses to our mandated reporting survey, along with responses to my follow-up questions:

    Initial survey response: http://www.contracostatimes.com/data/ci_22754331/school-survey-data?DistrictName=Mt.%20Diablo%20Unified%20School%20District#survey

    My emailed follow-up questions:

    “You responded ‘yes’ to the question: ‘Do you require all employees who come in contact with children, including teachers, administrators and staff, to receive mandated reporting training?’

    On the next question, which asked how often they are trained, you responded: ‘Mandated reporters should be trained once every school year.’

    On the next question, which asked ‘How many total mandated reporters work in your district?’, you responded: ‘All certificated employees.’

    On the next questions, which asked how many mandated reporters were trained this year and last year, you responded ‘Unknown at this time.’

    On the question asking what the training entails, you responded: ‘Reviewing the definition of child abuse, persons designated by law as mandated reports, how to report and the suspected child abuse report form.’

    Here are my questions:

    1. Do you also train all classified employees who are mandated reporters? If not, why not?

    2. Do you actually train all mandated reporters every year, or are you just aware that you SHOULD train them once a year?

    3. How is the training administered? Who reviews the information with the employees? Or, are they given written materials to review on their own?

    4. Annie Nolen has told me that she has repeatedly asked the district to use an online mandated reporter training, which she believes would be more comprehensive, but the district has refused. In light of the recent news reports where some school employees failed to report known or suspected abuse, do you believe it might be prudent to strengthen the district’s training?

    5. Some districts – such as those in Lamorinda – bring in representatives from the Child Abuse Prevention Council to provide free, comprehensive trainings, which include discussions of various possible scenarios employees might encounter, along with an opportunity to ask questions. Do you believe MDUSD employees might benefit from such a training?

    Response: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B6mS2O1_NKceajhwakJTMndCLVU/edit?usp=sharing

  • Sue Berg

    I know that Mandated Reporting training was provided to K-Adult Principals on several occasions during McHenry’s tenure. I was a participant. Each presentation was given by an attorney; there were many questions and serious discussions. I’ve heard that the training has been provided to some extent at the annual New Teachers Orientation. Calls made to CPS and local police departments are not rare, but they are confidential. It is fitting and not surprising that the public hears about only those in which official charges are filed.

  • Doctor J

    @Sue#93 Since they were done by outside attorneys it should be easily ascertainable by checking the prior billings with dates of the trainings.

  • Doctor J

    @Theresa#92 The supplemental response by Julie B-M and Felicia S-S,JD was a laugher since Tom Torlakson recommended on February 14, 2013 in a letter to Steven Lawrence ” the California Department of Social Services Child Abuse Mandated Reporter Training Web page at http://mandatedreporterca.com/training/educators.htm

  • Doctor J

    “As educators, our most important duty is the protection of the children in our care.” Tom Torlakson http://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/el/le/yr13ltr0214.asp

  • Teacher

    Pretty sure all teachers and administrators are aware they are mandated reporters. I’ve been in the district a long time and have heard it in one form or another every year.

  • anon

    @94, McHenry hired Rolen in 2005. (yes, he created the position for him; Sue Berg has never mentioned this in her posts, but she knows it is true.) Before Rolen was hired, Miller Brown and Dannis provided the training. After Rolen was hired, he presumably would have taken over that responsibility as general counsel, although he still could have contracted it out. You would be looking at pre-Rolen billings most likely, however,

  • anon

    @94, ok J, I know you never miss a beat, I should say the Board hired Rolen, but McHenry created the position for Rolen in 2005 and the Board approved his contract.

  • Sue Berg

    Anon, McHenry created the position of General Counsel, but he certainly did not create it for any particular person. Greg Rolen was one of several attorneys who applied. The final selection was made following a lengthy interview process by the Superintendent’s Council as a group.