According to the lawsuit, the incident occurred on May 25, 2010, when Loma Vista Elementary teacher Dina Holder, 52, threw a student to the floor for not responding to her instructions and kicked him several times. Classroom aides witnessed the event. One of the aides reported the incident to principal Laurie James two days later, but no police report was filed by the school district.
“I can tell you that there was one report filed and it wasn’t by the school district or CPS (Child Protective Services),” said Brentwood Police Sgt. Timothy Herbert.
Holder was placed on administrative leave for the remaining four days of the 2010 school year then transferred to Krey Elementary, where she continued to teach special-education students despite the lack of appropriate credentials, according to state records.
Caneel Carlin, the mother of the student, filed a police report in June, 2010, after learning from Loma Vista Principal Laurie James about the incident. Holder pleaded no contest to misdemeanor child abuse in the case in 2011, and was sentenced to four years probation, a year of child-abuse training and was ordered to stay away from the student.
In January of 2012, the Carlin family filed a suit against the school district, Holder and James citing battery, negligence and failure to report the incident as mandated by law. As part of the settlement reached this week, Holder has been ordered out of the classroom and into a desk job and will retire at the end of the current school year.
In a statement posted on the school district website, BUSD Superintendent Merrill Grant expressed regret over the incident. “As an administrator and educator, and as the parent of children in this district, I reacted to this incident in the same way as most people who have learned of it – with shock, disgust and anger,” wrote Grant. “I am deeply sorry for what this child and his family have endured.
“I am pleased we were able to reach an agreement with the family of the student who was assaulted. The terms of this settlement, including the requirement that the teacher involved leave the classroom immediately and resign at the end of the school year, were mutually agreeable to both the plaintiffs and the district.”
According to deposition sources, Holder has a history of abuse in the classroom dating back to 2008.
In his website statement, Grant explained why Holder was not removed from the classroom sooner. “In key respects, our response to this incident was subject to legal limitations and restrictions governing teacher personnel actions. We sought at all times, however, to follow a course that would safeguard the children in our classrooms and prevent a recurrence of any similar conduct. Had more expedient measures been legally available to us, we would have pursued them without hesitation.”
Calls to Grant at press time were not immediately returned.
Jana Aubert, who has two students at Loma Vista, was outraged by what she learned this week. “As a parent of a second- and fifth-grader at Loma Vista, I was very shocked and dismayed to hear about the events that occurred at my daughter’s elementary school,” said Aubert. “If I can’t trust my school’s administration in these big matters, what does it say about their credibility in dealing with the everyday issues?”
The BUSD Board of Trustees was scheduled to hold a closed session meeting today at 4 p.m.