2017-11-02 / Front Page

No charges to be filed in alleged student assault

By Gazette staff

No criminal charges will be filed against a former Mariposa County Unified School District substitute teacher who was involved in an alleged physical assault this summer.

The Mariposa County District Attorney’s Office concluded the investigation of the incident which occurred this summer on June 26. The incident occurred at the Mariposa Monarch Academy between a substitute teacher and a student with a learning disability.

The employee was terminated by the district.

“Based upon the evidence available to us at this time, our office will not file criminal charges against the teacher or staff involved in the incident,” a press release sent from District Attorney Thomas Cooke on Monday afternoon stated. “However, if new evidence does arise in this matter we will of course reevaluate the case.”

The press release continued, “Although we have not filed criminal charges in this case, our investigation did reveal that the Mariposa County Unified School District and staff clearly mishandled the matter by failing to notify the parents of the incident until days after it occurred and caused the parents unnecessary emotional stress and concern for their child by their failure to act in a timely manner.”

MCUSD Superintendent Robin Hopper responded to the decision on Tuesday morning in an email to the Gazette.

“Mariposa County Unified School District puts student safety, health and welfare at the forefront of all we do,” Hopper wrote. “We take very seriously our responsibility that parents entrust us with their most precious treasures each day, their children. We, as educators, chose this profession because we value and invest in children. We endeavor to provide the most caring and nurturing learning environments for every student every day.”

Hopper continued, “Regretfully, in this particular isolated instance, proper procedures and protocols that have always been in place were not followed by some staff members. The teacher that day was a substitute teacher and once the incident was reported to my office that substitute was immediately placed on our no call list while we immediately launched an investigation into the matter.”

Hopper said “the failure to report the incident in a timely manner was a breach of our proper notification procedures by staff.”

“Further, the way in which the parents were notified did not follow directives and was not handled in an appropriate, professional manner,” Hopper wrote. “This atypical response to a serious situation is unfortunate. I can understand the parents’ disappointment and frustration.”

Hopper said the district “has since reinforced its notification procedures with staff and provided additional training through meetings and explicit directions in how to respond, including timelines.”

“All staff are also mandated to take yearly training in reporting requirements,” Hopper explained.

“In addition, the substitute teacher was not allowed to return to any of our classrooms after this incident and has been permanently removed from our employment,” Hopper wrote. “Following our investigation we submitted our report to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). The CTC typically conducts their own investigation in these types of cases and will determine whether or not to revoke the substitute teacher’s credential.”

“Albeit an isolated incident, our goal is to ensure another occurrence like this never occurs again,” Hopper added. “Furthermore, in any matter that requires reporting, staff will respond within the proper timelines, and notifications will be handled correctly. Our duty to student safety and security is our first priority.”

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