Watch CBS News

Award-Winning Teacher Allegedly Removed Over Mark Twain Quote Threatens Suit

KOREATOWN ( — A popular teacher who's been nationally praised for his work has been removed from the classroom at a Koreatown elementary school.

Only on CBS2/KCAL9, Rafe Esquith's attorney fired back Monday at Los Angeles Unified School District officials, saying the allegations are ruining a great man's reputation for no reason.

Esquith, then a fifth-grade teacher at Hobart Elementary, spoke with us about his unique and inspiring teaching methods in the classroom back in 2004.

There are dozens of articles and videos about the LAUSD employee who started the Hobart Shakespeareans Foundation, which raises money for classroom materials and field trips.

That's why Esquith's neighbor, Steve Montgomery, was just as surprised to learn he was removed from the classroom several months ago during an investigation by the school district.

"He is a very dedicated teacher," Montgomery said.

No one answered the door at Esquith's home, but a woman picked up the phone when CBS2/KCAL9's Jasmine Viel called. The woman said Esquith is OK and agreed he's a great teacher.

A district spokesperson said Esquith is still on the payroll but would not say what led to the investigation.

Esquith has hired famed attorney Mark Geragos.

Geragos tells us it was a complaint from another teacher concerning a quote Esquith used from Mark Twain that started it all.

Geragos issued the following statement regarding the matter: "The State of California has thoroughly investigated and cleared Rafe, who is a nationally recognized and award-winning teacher. If LAUSD does not immediately reinstate Rafe and issue a public apology, we will file immediate legal action."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.