Pasadena school seeks information in teacher investigation

A Pasadena private school is seeking information from students and parents to aid in an investigation of any possible misconduct by a teacher who recently resigned.

The Polytechnic School hired the teacher a year ago immediately after he resigned from Marlborough School, an elite campus for girls in Hancock Park where he worked for more than a decade. Marlborough had been made aware that a former student alleged that the instructor had sexually harrassed her. More recently, the school was made aware of a possible physical relationship between the instructor and a student a decade ago.


Polytechnic's internal investigation will be led by Glenn Pomerantz of the law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson and overseen by a special committee of the Board of Trustees, according to a statement from the school.

The school declined to comment Tuesday, but referred to previously released statements.

"First, we want to find out whether any Poly student has experienced or is aware of any inappropriate conduct," according to a school statement. "Second, we need to delve deeper into the questions that have been raised regarding our hiring decision-making process."

An earlier statement said the school was not aware of any alleged misconduct during the teacher's time there. It also said that Polytechnic, "conducts a thorough background investigation, including fingerprinting for criminal history and reference checks" and "considered a range of information and perspectives" in the decision to hire the teacher.

The teacher, who was identified by Polytechnic in its letter to parents and students, did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

Last summer after the instructor was hired, Leslie Gilbert-Lurie, a former Marlborough parent, said in an interview that she contacted Polytechnic's then-head of school Debbie Reed expressing concerns that the incoming teacher allegedly had sexually harassed her daughter. Gilbert-Lurie said that Reed told her the school would flag the teacher's file so further allegations could lead to his dismissal.

The issue came to light when her daughter, Mikaela Gilbert-Lurie, 19, published an essay at the end of June in the online magazine xoJane that alleged sexual harassment, describing what she said were suggestive emails and inappropriate interactions at school that started when she was 16.

"I want to show girls it's not optional to speak up; it's mandatory," Mikaela Gilbert-Lurie said in an interview with The Times.

Neither the teacher nor the school were named in her piece, but since its publication, she said that at least nine other women alleged similar experiences with the same teacher. One student alleged a physical relationship with the teacher, she said.

She said she recently met with John Bracker, the current head of school at Polytechnic, to ensure that he was aware of the situation.

Marlborough recently contacted the Los Angeles Police Department, which is conducting an investigation, and the school also has begun an internal probe.

In a statement, Bracker asked Polytechnic parents to alert him or Pomerantz if their children are aware of "inappropriate or uncomfortable" situations with the teacher.

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