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School administrator pleads not guilty to animal cruelty, dog fighting

Longtime Palmdale educator charged with multiple counts of dog fighting, animal cruelty

A Palmdale School District administrator charged with multiple counts of dog fighting and cruelty to animals pleaded not guilty Tuesday, prosecutors said.

Pauline Winbush, a longtime educator in the Palmdale School District and the district’s current assistant superintendent of human resources, faces more than two dozen charges, including 17 felony counts of animal cruelty, four counts of dog fighting and one count of child abuse, according to a spokesman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

Her boyfriend, Kevin Ray Williams, 50, also faces the same charges. They surrendered Monday to Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies on a warrant issued Dec. 24. Williams is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.

On Oct. 29, a horse owned by Winbush and Williams was found wandering the streets. Deputies later found scores of animals in poor condition at the couple's Antelope Valley home.

Dogs were kept in crates loaded with animal feces, which were stored inside the couple's home. The 19 pit bulls found at the home were all euthanized.

Some of the dogs bore signs of fighting with other dogs, Deputy Dist. Atty. Lyle Riggs said.

In response to the raid on Winbush’s home, the school district placed her on paid administrative leave Dec. 1 and launched an internal investigation into her conduct, according to a statement released Tuesday.

District officials are “deeply troubled” by Winbush’s arrest and arraignment, according to the statement, which added: “We know that our staff members must always serve as role models for our students.”

Winbush, 52, launched her career as an educator in 1989 with the Los Angeles Unified School District before starting with the Palmdale School District in 1992, according to her biography on the district’s website.

She rose through the administrative ranks, serving an assistant principal and principal before becoming an assistant superintendent of human resources. Last year, Winbush served as the interim superintendent before Raul Maldonado was named superintendent in the spring.

The district -- the fourth-largest elementary school district in California -- serves 22,000 students from kindergarten through eighth grade.

For breaking news in California, follow @MattHjourno. He can be reached at matt.hamilton@latimes.com.

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