Teacher accused of inappropriate conduct got job at another school
A teacher accused of inappropriate conduct at a prestigious private school immediately got a job at another one last year, leading to internal investigations at both campuses.
The teacher taught for more than a decade at Marlborough School, an elite campus for girls in Hancock Park, before moving to Polytechnic School in Pasadena after allegations about him surfaced.
The Los Angeles Police Department said Monday that it is looking into the complaints. Marlborough said it contacted authorities last week.
The teacher, who could not be reached for comment, has since resigned from Polytechnic, a coed K-12 school.
The issue arose after Mikaela Gilbert-Lurie, a former Marlborough student who now is in college, published an online essay describing alleged sexual harassment by her English teacher that she said began when she was 16. She did not name the teacher or the school in her article, which appeared in the online magazine xoJane.
Afterward, Gilbert-Lurie, 19, was contacted by nine other current or former students who alleged similar experiences with the same teacher, she said in an interview with The Times.
In a statement that did not identify the student or the teacher, Marlborough officials acknowledged that in 2012 a “student informed administrators about a string of suggestive personal emails sent to her by one of her teachers.”
The school said it immediately conducted a review and meted out appropriate discipline, which it would not disclose. The teacher remained at the campus for another year before resigning in 2013.
Gilbert-Lurie’s mother heard that the instructor had been hired at Polytechnic and said she spoke to then-head of school Debbie Reed.
“I thought about how wrong it was that he could ... get a fresh start at another ... school,” said Leslie Gilbert-Lurie.
She said that Reed told her the teacher’s file would be flagged so that any further allegations could lead to dismissal.
Polytechnic declined to respond to questions Monday, providing a previously released statement asserting that, for new hires, it “conducts a thorough background investigation, including fingerprinting for criminal history and reference checks.”
“Poly considered a range of information and perspectives when making the decision to have the teacher join our faculty,” according to the statement. “We are not aware of any allegations of misconduct during the teacher’s employment.”
The school confirmed the teacher’s departure but did not say why he had left.
Mikaela Gilbert-Lurie said she met recently with Polytechnic’s current head of school, John Bracker, to again voice concerns.
Marlborough officials said in a statement Sunday that another former student has come forward, alleging an improper physical relationship with the teacher a decade ago. The school has set up an investigative panel headed by attorney Debra Wong Yang, a trustee.
Mikaela Gilbert-Lurie said she remains worried that one or both schools could have put students at risk by failing to act on allegations.
“I got a cold, uninterested response that was very unhelpful to me,” Gilbert-Lurie said, adding that the encounters caused her to lose sleep and develop stress-induced shingles.
She said the alleged harassment began after she requested an interview with the teacher for the school newspaper.
“I’m speaking out because of the values instilled in me at Marlborough — about being a strong woman —but they don’t practice what they preach,” Gilbert-Lurie said.
Times staff writer Howard Blume contributed to this story.
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