Ousted Brentwood Science Magnet Principal Beverly Tietjen has been reassigned to a new post as principal of Wilshire Crest Elementary School on the Westside, although the district attorney's office is still investigating her possible role in missing Brentwood student body funds.
The embattled educator had been transferred to a vague "research" assignment in the district's adult division 3rd Street Annex last August, shortly after bookkeeping irregularities were discovered. The year-end reassignment appears to be an effort to avoid costly litigation.
Century City attorney Tim Sotille, who represents Tietjen, said the new job surfaced in the wake of a petition seeking reinstatement filed by him in Los Angeles Superior Court.
"In our papers, we pointed out that under California law she cannot be removed from a principalship without cause once the school year has begun, and that there has been no final determination of any wrongdoing by her.
"We contended that the law requires her to be kept in the same specific position she held," Sotille said, "but the district and the court construed it to mean principalship as a generic position."
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Huss ruled that the reassignment rendered Tietjen's petition moot, Sotille said.
Tietjen's investigation and removal from the school she headed for 14 years was triggered by an audit last summer, covering a two-year period, that revealed more than $30,000 in student body funds not properly accounted for.
District officials said that Tietjen made checks out to herself that were not backed by invoices for supplies and equipment she said she bought.
Months ago, school district officials turned the investigation over to the district attorney's office, which is weighing whether to file criminal charges.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Linda Loftfield, who is handling the case, said the investigation continues.
Meanwhile, several parents at the Brentwood school say an unexplained $10,000 deposit has mysteriously shown up in the student body fund account, but the current principal has told them she cannot discuss it because of the ongoing investigation.
Sotille said Tietjen has made no repayments.
School district offices were closed for the holiday, and officials could not be reached for comment.
But Jefferson Crain, deputy to Westside school board member Mark Slavkin, whose district includes Brentwood, said Tietjen's reassignment to Wilshire Crest was a great surprise and did not carry the school board's approval.
Her attorney said Tietjen is "very happy to be working as principal at Wilshire Crest and her main interest remains educating children."
"We are confident that there is no basis to the allegations against her and that she'll be vindicated. It's really a question of bookkeeping."