Had Petaluma and county school officials known about Morrone’s story at Sonoma Academy, it is likely he would not have been hired as a replacement, these officials say.
Laughlin, the associate superintendent of the county education office, said SCOE will temporarily remove teachers from its “notice of employment” list while the agency’s department conducts its own investigation of any teachers who do. subject to reports of misconduct. This can be stimulated by an arrest report, a notification from a local school of problems with the submarine, or a report made by a member of the public.
“We do our best to keep people informed of the people they hire,” he said.
The apparent silence of Sonoma Academy, in this case, didn’t help matters.
“I don’t know they contacted us,” Laughlin said.
Foehl, who took charge of the school at Sonoma Academy in 2020, did not respond to an email with detailed questions asking what notification, if any, the school has made to other agencies , including SCOE and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, on Morrone.
Since June, Foehl, who fired Morrone after the initial investigation, and other school officials have refused requests for interviews and did not respond to questions from The Press Democrat about the growing number of reports and findings of teacher misconduct and administrator negligence.
Harris, the superintendent of Petaluma, said his district relied heavily on SCOE’s processes for the elimination of alternate candidates, which involves a criminal background check, fingerprinting and training on mandatory reporting, bloodborne pathogens and sexual harassment awareness.
Morrone erased his background check. No calls were made to his former employers, which is typical, according to Laughlin.
“From our point of view, we’re like, ‘Score is great. “” Harris said of hiring Morrone. He said Morrone told the district he was pursuing a master’s degree and that his nearly two decades of teaching experience was a plus as well.
Morrone, reached by email, did not respond to written questions about his employment with schools in the town of Petaluma.
School officials in Petaluma took note of student reports on Morrone and his dismissal from Sonoma Academy on June 9, Harris said, after seeing The Press Democrat’s first article.
“Of course our answer is ‘Oh my God,’” Harris said. “It was really the first time we learned that there was even a charge (of misconduct).”
That day, Harris said, Morrone called the district and resigned his role as a substitute with schools in the town of Petaluma.
The district also launched an investigation that day at Casa Grande, Harris said, which involved contacting every student who had Morrone as a teacher during those six weeks. Harris was unable to provide an exact number, but estimated that Morrone treated around 150 students over five periods. Because most of the high school students in Petaluma stayed home during blended learning, Harris estimated that around 30% attended the school in person.
No reports of misconduct were found, Harris said.
“We wanted to make sure, for every student who had contact, that there were no problems,” he said. “And that’s exactly what we found.”
Laughlin said Morrone did not call to resign his post at SCOE. He declined to go into details of the process, but confirmed Morrone was no longer on the county’s list of approved replacements.
Morrone, however, still holds a valid teaching credential until April 1, 2026, according to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. The agency’s credentials committee investigates any report of a credential holder’s misconduct and then makes recommendations to the commission based on its findings.
The committee then votes in public session on the committee’s recommendations.
Sasha Horwitz, the commission’s government relations and public affairs officer, said she was prohibited by law from confirming whether a person was under investigation by the commission.
Laughlin also declined to say whether or not the SCOE made a report on Morrone to the Credentials Commission.
“I’ll tell you, we usually will in those kinds of situations,” he said. “When something is in the newspaper, someone is suspected (of misconduct) and we want to make sure the (commission) sees these things.”
Erny, a graduate of Sonoma Academy, said she was relieved to learn that no reports of misconduct had been made at Casa Grande.
Yet, she said, “it is very clear, even more so than before, that inadequate measures were taken after his dismissal to ensure that he could no longer be in contact with vulnerable young people.”
You can reach Editor-in-Chief Kaylee Tornay at 707-521-5250 or [email protected] On Twitter @ka_tornay.