PACIFIC GROVE – The Pacific Grove Unified School District has decided to release a teacher from Pacific Grove High School over “serious allegations of inappropriate conduct against female students” made earlier this school year, the Superintendent of Pacific Grove said , Ralph Porras, in a letter to the district. community.
“While the process of firing a teacher takes time and protocol, we strongly believe in our decision and the direction we are taking,” he wrote.
The Pacific Grove Unified Board of Trustees voted to release the teacher at a special board meeting Monday night following an investigation by the district legal counsel.
The teacher’s release process will now be assigned to an administrative law judge, who will hold their own hearing and report to the district council with a final recommendation. The timing of such a decision is unknown at this time, but until then the employee in question will remain on paid leave, which began when the district opened the investigation into the situation three weeks ago, said Porras.
Allegations of sexual misconduct against the Pacific Grove High teacher due to be released from the school were voiced at the regular Pacific Grove Unified board meeting on October 7. The allegations were described in a student letter detailing a first-hand account of the employee’s behavior. In the letter, which was read aloud to the district council by the student’s mother, Pacific Grove High sports medicine professor and local chiropractor Anthony Payan was charged with sexually assaulting the student and a another classmate during class.
The district did not identify the teacher, citing staff and confidentiality issues. Payan could not be reached for comment.
The student shared his story the week after the sexual misconduct, expressing his unease to Jessica Grogan, an English teacher at Pacific Grove High, and the school’s deputy principal, Sean Steinbeck. Upon admission, Payan was put on administrative leave and was denied access to students, the student said.
The student was then interviewed by Steinbeck and several law enforcement agencies, who completed a forensic interview.
At the time, the Pacific Grove Police Department received the report of potential sexual assault and completed an investigation which was then turned over to the Monterey District Attorney’s Office, according to Police Commander Dave Santos.
The prosecutor’s office has concluded that no criminal charges will be laid, citing a thorough investigation by the police department and no evidence of sexual intent or sexual motivation, Assistant District Attorney Chris Knight said earlier this month.
With the local authorities’ investigation closed, Payan returned to Pacific Grove High. It wasn’t until the student publicly shared his story to the board last month, along with complaints and calls to action from other members of the Pacific Grove Unified community, that the district chose to reopen the problem and pursue its own investigation.
The investigation turned out to reveal “additional information to support the council’s decision to take action to release the teacher,” the message said on Tuesday evening.
“While an administrative law judge will offer the final analysis and recommendation, our ultimate goal in this process is to ensure that this person is released from our district and is no longer involved in our schools,” the post continued. .
The release of an employee by Pacific Grove Unified follows other complaints circulating throughout the district.
Last month, a video surfaced on social media of a Pacific Grove High English teacher saying the N word while reading aloud Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Prison” to a class last year, prompting Porras and Pacific Grove High Principal Lito Garcia will post a response reaffirming Pacific Grove Unified’s commitment to fairness. Acknowledge concerns about how the district has managed equity and race issues in the past, the district has promised to produce a new equity plan in the coming weeks.
For now, Porras has reiterated that while issues like those that have arisen since the start of the school year raise an issue of trust within the district community, Pacific Grove Unified will remain diligent in addressing complaints from as transparently and quickly as possible, he said.
“Our commitment to be transparent about any information we can give is a demonstration that we take this seriously and continue to rebuild that trust by taking action,” Porras said. “At the end of the day, we just want to make sure that the best employees are in place so that our students and staff feel safe here at school.”