The Fullerton School District has agreed to pay $40,000 to King Steadman, an eighth-grade teacher arrested twice on suspicion of lewd conduct, in return for his resignation, a district trustee said Wednesday.
School board President Irene Armstrong said the board "did not wish to have Mr. Steadman as an employee of the district," and faced the prospect of protracted legal costs in their battle with him.
Steadman, 45, a social studies teacher at D. Russell Parks Junior High School, was first arrested in 1981 in the men's restroom of Hillcrest Park in Fullerton on suspicion of lewd conduct. That charge was later dropped when Steadman pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace.
After that arrest, school district officials suspended him for 6 months but did not disclose the reason publicly and explained his suspension to a PTA official only as a "morals problem."
But in 1987, he again was arrested on suspicion of lewd conduct and indecent exposure at the Erotic Words and Pictures Bookstore in Fontana. The district suspended him for 6 months, then reinstated him. This time, however, parents, who had learned of the previous arrest, packed a school board meeting demanding Steadman's firing. After the public outcry, the board dismissed Steadman in September, 1988.
Appealed Case to State
Steadman appealed his case to the state Commission on Professional Competency. During commission hearings, he attempted to show show that he was an alcoholic and under the influence of alcohol when he was arrested in 1987.
Early this year, the commission ruled in his favor, concluding that the district erred in firing him because it failed to show that his conduct outside the classroom had impaired his ability to teach.
Although the district appealed that ruling to the Orange County Superior Court, trustees changed their minds Tuesday, Armstrong said, and unanimously decided to approve the settlement.
The likelihood of future legal appeals by either party could have left the matter unresolved "for years," Armstrong said.
Steadman could not be reached for comment. His attorney, Marianne Reinhold, did not return telephone calls.