HomeBlocksFront-GridSan Marino Unified School District Rejects Employee Claim for $8 Million; Lawsuit...

San Marino Unified School District Rejects Employee Claim for $8 Million; Lawsuit Likely to Follow

The San Marino Unified School District has rejected a tort claim filed against it and three SMUSD administrators by attorney Guy Glazier on behalf of San Marino High School health assistant Leyda Escamilla.

The tort claim, referred to as a “precursor” to a civil lawsuit, sought $2 million in compensatory damages and $6 million in punitive damages for alleged injuries Escamilla suffered, including “severe emotional and mental distress requiring medical and therapeutic intervention and medication; loss of employment and its associated benefits and enjoyment and damage to reputation.”

Glazier said he expects to file a civil lawsuit on Escamilla’s behalf after SMUSD rejected the claim.

“We have six months in which to file such a claim, so within the next few months, we will do so,” he told the Tribune.

According to court documents provided by Glazier to the Tribune, Escamilla filed an administrative complaint on Jan. 12 with the SMUSD Board of Education, a criminal complaint with the San Marino Police Department and a Government Claims Act claim against SMUSD and Superintendent Linda de la Torre, Human Resources Director Jason Rose and SMHS Principal Benjamin Wolf. Escamilla filed the complaints and claim after she allegedly suffered retaliation, among other acts, for reporting disclosed, alleged information about SMHS athletic coordinator and head football coach Nate Turner.

Escamilla is currently on paid administrative leave.

In a statement, SMUSD said that it has hired an independent investigator to review the administrative complaint filed by Escamilla, but that it is limited in what it can say because the matter is a personnel issue.

“As far as the referenced discipline proceedings, it is a personnel matter that the district is not free to comment on at this time,” SMUSD said. “The San Marino Unified School District prioritizes the safety of all its students, employees and community members, and it takes great care to ensure the interests of its students and employees are protected.”

With regards to a “packet” of information that Escamilla reportedly disclosed and distributed to school officials regarding Turner, SMUSD said: “The purported incidents cited in the ‘packet’ distributed by [Escamilla] are not validated. Moreover, the ‘packet’ does not include any information the district can or should rely upon to make employment decisions; it would be illegal to do so.

“Several documents contained in the packet are not public records and we have reason to believe they were improperly obtained.”

According to de la Torre on Monday, Turner is not under investigation.

“Mr. Turner’s employment is not at issue right now at all,” she said. “His employment is in good standing. We’re not investigating him at all — there is no reason to.”

As of press time on Tuesday, the San Marino Police Department did not return a request for comment regarding the criminal complaint filed by Escamilla against SMUSD and the three administrators.

In its statement, SMUSD called the criminal complaint “defective.”

“The complaint filed with the San Marino Police Department is defective because it fails to allege that the district engaged in any improper government activity or to otherwise establish a violation of Education Code section 44110,” it said. California Ed Code Section 44110 is known as the Reporting by School Employees of Improper Governmental Activities Act.

First published in the Feb. 22 issue of the San Marino Tribune


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