LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Los Angeles Unified school district officials have voted to fire a nationally recognized teacher following a misconduct investigation, according to reports Thursday.
The vote by the Los Angeles Board of Education to fire Rafe Esquith, a longtime educator at Hobart Avenue Elementary School, comes despite a denial of any wrongdoing by Esquith, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Acting on the recommendation of senior administrators, the school board voted unanimously behind closed doors Tuesday to begin termination proceedings against Esquith, sources who requested anonymity told The Times.
While the LAUSD does not comment on confidential personnel matters, district spokeswoman Monica Carazo issued the following statement: "In the event the Board of Education votes to dismiss a certificated employee, notice of its intent to dismiss is promptly submitted to the employee and an opportunity for an administrative hearing follows thereafter."
Esquith, 61, was removed from the classroom in April after another educator complained about a joke he made to students relating to nudity. The complaint prompted an investigation, which quickly grew to include other allegations of misconduct, The Times reported.
District officials previously declined to discuss details of the case, other than to state that the matter is a "very complex issue".
"While I respect that this teacher is extremely popular — and has been for some time — in the briefings that have been given to me, there are serious issues that go beyond the initial investigation," Superintendent Ramon Cortines said.
An L.A. Unified spokeswoman told The Times Wednesday that Esquith was no longer being paid by the district.
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