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Teacher May Face New Investigation

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Although a criminal battery case against a veteran Alhambra high school teacher has been dropped without charges being filed, an internal school district investigation of the same allegation may soon be in the works.

Donald Monson, a teacher at Mark Keppel High School, was accused of kicking senior Donald Bernard after a heated classroom discussion about Proposition 187, passed by voters last November. The measure denies educational services and non-emergency medical care to illegal immigrants.

After interviewing Monson and several students who witnessed the Oct. 11 incident, the district attorney’s office decided against filing charges against Monson.

Because some students alleged Monson had used racial slurs during the incident, the case was forwarded to the district attorney’s hate crimes unit for further investigation. That office also recommended against filing criminal charges, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Stanley Williams.

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School district officials now say they will begin an independent investigation.

“I can tell you very little except that the district is having its own investigation,” said school board member Dora Padilla.

Supt. Dick Keilhacker said he wants to review the facts of the case before commenting.

“I want to go back and look at the whole thing,” Keilhacker said. “I’m not sure at this time where it will go.”

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Monson, 58, has been a social studies teacher in the Alhambra City and High School Districts for 27 years. Monson allegedly kicked Bernard, 17, on the shoulder after a discussion about Proposition 187. The student said Monson used racial slurs during the incident.

Monson admitted to pushing Bernard with his foot, saying he was wrong to do so but that it was done in an attempt to have Bernard sit down during a classroom discussion. He also said the discussion of Proposition 187 was on a different day and that when he used racial comments, he was telling the class about comments that had been made to a former student of his as an illustration of racial attitudes, not a reflection of his own beliefs.

After the incident, Keppel High Principal Rudy Chavez called Alhambra police and Bernard made a citizen’s arrest of Monson. Monson was arrested on campus that day on suspicion of misdemeanor battery. He was released a short time later on his own recognizance. No disciplinary action has been taken against Monson.

Monson has maintained that he had been unfairly branded as a racist when he simply tried to quiet an unruly student.

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“What are they going to do now to paint me as a racist?” he said after the decision not to file charges.

Bernard could not be reached for comment.

Monson’s attorney, Richard Schwab, said he was disappointed in the school district’s decision to re-evaluate the case.


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