But the practice has changed in the last dozen years or so. Now, district officials say, they are prohibited from assigning chores under the contract with the teachers' union. Although there is no specific reference in the contract to housed employees, an attorney for L.A. Unified pointed to Article 9, Section 4.0, which defines the "professional duties" of a teacher, such as instructional planning and evaluating the work of pupils.
"Why would we denigrate [teachers] by forcing them to do something they're not supposed to do?" said A. J. Duffy, who is now president of UTLA, adding that housed teachers are entitled to a presumption of innocence.
Los Angeles Unified Supt. Ramon C. Cortines thinks the policy should be changed. "I don't believe they should just be sitting -- that's taxpayer money," he said.
Some employees newly housed by L.A. Unified are dissatisfied with the practice for a different reason: They haven't been told what they are alleged to have done, nor whether the district is planning to fire them.
"Prisoners in Guantanamo Bay have more rights than I do," said Jeffrey Brown, a ninth-grade teacher at Fulton College Preparatory School in Van Nuys.
In a lawsuit filed against the district in April, Brown alleges that he has been housed for roughly 70 days but told nothing about why.
His lawyer, Joseph Hart, said he was amazed at the secrecy of the system and its lack of regard for individual rights. "I'm surprised nobody has challenged it in court before," he said.
District officials said that with rare exceptions, employees are informed all along of the allegations against them.
Despite severely restricted movement and speech that was hard to understand, Kim racked up remarkable achievements before beginning his teaching career.
As a child he learned to paint with a brush and to type with a stick -- both held in his mouth. He earned a bachelor's degree in physics from UC Berkeley, then went on to get two master's degrees, one in astrophysics and the other in special education. He was also active in the disability rights movement.
When he applied for a full-time teaching job, he was turned down by more than 15 schools in L.A. Unified, he said in a 1999 letter filed in court. Only after he threatened to sue the district for disability discrimination did he get a teaching job at Grant High School, records show.
Kim's troubles with the district began in 2000, when a classroom aide reported inappropriate comments and advances.
In class one October day, according to her testimony before an administrative panel, Kim asked her to stand closer to him while interpreting his speech for the students. When she moved closer, she said, he touched her breast with his left hand, the only one he could slightly control.
Students immediately started making comments about what they'd seen. One said: "Oh, come on, Mr. Kim, you know you liked it," according to a summary of allegations against Kim prepared by a state review panel in 2008. Kim responded to the students that he had.
Over the next two years, another adult andsixstudents would make similar complaints against Kim,according to the summary.
The same month the aide complained, Kim asked a girl if she had a boyfriend and if she was a virgin, according to the girl's testimony during an administrative hearing.
Another girl said that Kim kept staring at her and urged her at one point not to change her hair color, according to documents filed with the state.