L.A. County supervisor calls for accountability in fight club case at probation camp

Expressing deep concern over allegations that a teacher arranged fights between students in a classroom at a Los Angeles County juvenile probation camp, Supervisor Mike Antonovich said Wednesday that he wants the education agency responsible for hiring and supervising the teacher held accountable.

Antonovich said he planned to submit a motion at next week’s board meeting demanding that Los Angeles County Office of Education Supt. Darline Robles report back April 6 with details on the hiring and screening of Stephen Wesley, 43.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators arrested Wesley on Tuesday for allegedly allowing and refereeing five boxing-style bouts -- recorded by a security camera -- during his class at Camp Karl Holton in San Fernando on Aug. 8, 2008. He has been charged with six counts of child endangerment.

Antonovich said school officials need to explain any breaches in hiring procedures, as well as corrective actions taken as a result of Wesley’s case. School officials said they began investigating Wesley five days after the report of the fights and that he had not been assigned to teach in the interim. He resigned Sept. 29, 2008, before he could be disciplined, said education agency spokeswoman Margo Minecki.

“While the safety and security of probation youth is a county responsibility, the screening, hiring and disciplining of teachers is the responsibility” of the education agency, Antonovich wrote in his proposed motion. “This incident raises serious concerns over that entire process, including what, if any, discipline would have been imposed had the teacher not resigned.”

Robles released a statement Wednesday saying, “The safety and well-being of our students are always a top priority for” the education agency. “I feel sure the incident at Camp Holton was promptly investigated and properly handled to protect the safety of students,” Robles wrote. “Fortunately, each classroom had a surveillance camera in place to promote safety of students and staff. The recording from the video surveillance system helped us to take swift action in this case.”